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Glittering moment in ceremony

Glitter glasses and a bedazzled gavel were gifted from retiring Justice Philip Morrison to Justice Susan Brown. Photos: Geoff McLeod

Glitter glasses and a bedazzled gavel were passed from retiring Justice Philip Morrison to Justice Susan Brown in his version of passing the baton to the newest member of the Court of Appeal on Friday.

The Honourable Chief Justice Bowskill told the packed Banco Court that neither of the Justices wanted a “fuss” to be made but the combined Valedictory and Welcoming Ceremony was a “milestone day” and “some fuss must be made nevertheless”.


The ‘symbols of power” being presented.

Justice Morrison’s presentation not only marked a transition of power in the court but the Winter Solstice – with His Honour remarking that Justice Brown somewhat resembled a Celtic Goddess, who traditionally presided over the transition from winter to spring in ancient times.

He thought the glasses and gavel or “Goddess symbols of power” would help make things brighter for Justice Brown as the seasons changed, and he donned a pair himself, channelling a Elton John look.

Justice Morrison, who was appointed a judge of the Queensland Court of Appeal in 2013, has showcased various fashion choices, some considered dubious by other members of the judiciary, over the years.

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His plastic rainbow Swatch Watch was considered “most unjudicial”, and his constantly changing, loud socks and laces were “too much for some”.

“I was told there a difference between being stylish and being clownish,” he recalled.

“I was, and am, altogether too irreverent,” he admitted, telling the court about how he hired an electric scooter which he brought to the court building and which was used to “hoot up and down” the hallways by many staff.


Justice Brown with her new glasses.

His “mischievous sense of humour” and “numerous quirks” were mentioned by Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath who shared “rare intel from well-placed and well-intentioned court sources who wish to remain anonymous”, and included references to Star Wars.

“Returning to my dossier on Your Honour, I have learnt you are not only fair, frank and fearless but you are also fun,” she said after listing many of his diverse achievements including serving as an Acting Judge of the Court of Appeal of Western Australia as part of an judicial exchange in 2021 and last year appointed as a Judge of the Tongan Court of Appeal.

“Your sense of humour is well known in the legal fraternity.”

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And while the court was entertained with amusing anecdotes including one involving The Game of Thrones dolls, Justice Morrison dedicated most of his speech to paying tribute to the extraordinary women in his life and career including his wife Fran, daughters, Associates and EAs.

The heart-felt tribute included the two women sitting next to him in Banco Court – the Chief Justice and Justice Brown – with His Honour saying “each shared chambers with me and inspired me to be better by the sheer power of their wonderful natures and their brilliance”.


A milestone day for the Court of Appeal.

“They offered mature advice when it was needed, like when I suggested we should have party poppers on the bench today. No, no, no.”

Justice Brown, who was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland in 2016 and named Woman Lawyer of the Year by the Women Lawyers Association Queensland that year, thanked the guests for attending “the closing of a great chapter of the Court of Appeal and hopefully for the opening of a new one”.

As well as showing she was a good sport with the Goddess gifts, Her Honour also showed her sense of humour.

“Today is made very special by my being able to share this ceremony with my colleague and friend of many years, Justice Morrison,” she said.

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“His Honour has been a strong influence in my life ever since we began to share chambers at the bar many years ago up until His Honour’s appointment when I then moved into His Honour’s room.

“We then became judicial colleagues when I was appointed to the court and now with my appointment to the Court of Appeal, I’m about to move into his room again. I can assure His Honour that this is last room of his that I will ever be moving into.”

The Chief Justice spoke of Justice Brown’s active mentoring skills and “incredible capacity for hard work”.


The Banco Court.

“She undoubtedly will be a loss to the Trial Division of this court but a terrific addition to the Court of Appeal.” Her Honour’s commission starts on 25 June, so she will be sworn in a later time.

The Chief Justice said there was “something serendipitous” about finding all three “sitting in a row here”.

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“One way or another we have variously been in chambers together for the last 25 years, both at the bar and now on the court,” she said.

“We have shared many milestones in our respective lives and we now share this significant one.

“It is hard to say farewell to Justice Morrison. I have to admit that I am somewhat in denial about the prospect of his departure from our court. The statutory retirement age has never looked so youthful or colourful before.


QLS Deputy President Genevieve Dee.

“And I should note Justice Morrison will be going out with a bang because he will be Acting Chief Justice from 6pm today until his final moment as a judge at midnight on the 24th of June.

“Nobody panic! And we are hopeful we will see him again in the capacity as an acting judge when the opportunity or need arises. So it is not goodbye but au revoir, we will see you again soon.”

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