They say all things come in threes, usually good things. So today was certainly a good day at Brisbane’s Banco Court as the judiciary welcomed Judge Heaton KC, Judge Trevino KC and Judge Power KC during a ceremonial District Court of Queensland sitting.
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said the old saying held true as she welcomed “a trio of outstanding legal minds” who had come to the bench “through hard work, sharp intellect and excellence throughout their extensive legal careers”.
“I appreciate the workload the judiciary shoulders and I know appointments Judge Heaton to Brisbane, Judge Trevino to Cairns and Judge Power to Ipswich will be well received,” Ms D’Ath said.
“With these appointments, we are expanding the number of District Court judges in Queensland in recognition of the demand in our busy courts.”
Ms D’Ath recognised the three judges had different experiences and personalities. She noted Judge Heaton’s preferred mode of transport – Kombi van; Judge’s Trevino’s dedication to North Queensland and Judge Power being part of a “real power couple” with his wife, an Innisfail Magistrate.
The judges were sworn in on 14 September and have been sitting in criminal matters in Brisbane since then.
Bar Association of Queensland President Damien O’Brien KC recognised Judge Heaton’s experience in the public service and as a trial lawyer, and being part of 272 published decisions in the Court of Appeal and 35 decisions of the High Court.
He said the “cheers of approval from the good people of North Queensland could be heard all the way down here in Brisbane” on Judge Trevino’s appointment.
Mr O’Brien said his relationship with Judge Power went all the way back to University of Queensland as part of the UQ mooting team but their lesser known achievements were as part of drama studies which were “interesting in the ’80s”.
Judge Heaton was first to address the court and acknowledged that day was “not all about me” and “accepted” that some of the guests at the court were there to support the other judges.
He said he was very pleased to be sharing the great occasion and moment with them.
Among his supporters at the court were some “far removed from the law” including Fred and Sandi Brophy, legendary outback tent boxing promoters. He shared memories of their travels to Birdsville and was delighted to share today’s unique court experience with friends as well as his “colourful life”.
Judge Heaton thanked Mr O’Brien and Queensland Law Society President Chloé Kopilović for their restraint in their storytelling.
Judge Trevino said he was “happy to bask in the shared glory” of the welcoming ceremony and “happy to be a resident judge of Cairns – the city I have worked and lived in for the past 18 years”.
“Through a twist of fate, falling in love with a girl in the far north of the state I found myself making the move north from Brisbane to hang up my shingle as a fledging barrister in a town in which I knew almost nobody.
“My wife and I had one small child and another on the way when we made the trek up the coast. And I have to say there was a deal of trepidation in what lay in store for me. I need not to have worried. I was embraced by the local profession, the warmness of my reception was only bettered by the humid heat of the tropics which took some getting used to.
“I enjoyed strong support from the solicitors of North Queensland right from the beginning.”
Judge Power said he was humbled by his appointment and noted “that after only a week and a half as a judge I have experienced how different it is be the one making the decision”.
“Most critically the decision on whether someone should be imprisoned. On countless occasions as a barrister I had submitted that someone should be jailed or made a plea in mitigation that they should not. But it is very different to have to make that decision rather than just to advocate for it.
“I hope I will faithfully fulfil the role of a judge of this court in making all such decisions.”
He paid tribute to his wife Megan for her professional advice as well as her support and “to review his written outlines – generally with advice to remove the unnecessary adjectives and to not repeat myself”.
Having moved to Flying Fish Point to support her appointment, he also hoped that Judge Trevino and other Cairns judges would allow him to sit in Innisfail in the years to come.
His Honour Chief Judge Brian Devereaux SC acknowledged the judges had come to the bench “via different backgrounds and paths”.
“The judges acknowledge the significant addition to the complement of the court that these appointments represent. This increase in judicial resources will have a positive effect on the court’s capacity to deliver timely access to justice for the Queensland community in all of the courts districts,” he said.