Michael Forde –Retired Judge District Court of Queensland 1995-2009
Judge Forde served on the bench from 1995 to 2009
Part of Judge Forde’s work involved travelling to remote indigenous communities in the Gulf of Carpentaria where alcohol abuse and domestic violence were present in 80% of the cases.
In 2004 he received a special commendation from the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration for his work in assisting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the justice system by his contribution to the development of training programs and guidelines for community justice groups . It included a video of how community justice groups could assist the court directed by the Judge
Prior to his appointment to the bench he practised as a barrister in the Brisbane area primarily in insurance law.
Since retiring he has been involved in a number of interesting projects including the review of Tow Truck legislation in Queensland, appointed as the Commissioner for Inquiry into the Queensland Rail New Generation Rollingstock and most recently he was appointed to the Queensland Accessible Transport Advisory Council
Joining to interview Michael Forde is a golfing buddy of Michael’s Brisbane barrister Harry Fong and a former interviewee.
Michael talks about:
· The etiquette for lawyers when addressing a retired judge ;
· How he managed to get a judge’s associate position whilst he; was at law school and it didn’t have much to do with who his family knew and more to do with doing an excellent job laying concrete;
· How he is related to the late Frank Forde (former prime minister of Australia)
· What a judge’s associate does, what it takes to get a position and what makes a really good associate. Also what makes a really bad one;
· How the role of Judge’s associate has changed over the years;
· How he came to be appointed to the bench by the Wayne Goss government in 1995
· Running for the seat of Lockyer in 1980 as a Labor party candidate when the last time it had been held by Labor was in the 1920’s;
· Why he didn’t stay in politics;
· Why the legal fraternity in Toowomba were initially worried about the establishment of the Toowoomba Community Legal Centre which he co-founded
· The rigours of going on ‘circuit”
· The only time when he felt that he was in danger when he sentenced a group of white men who had beat up an indigenous person without provocation and the community were not happy about it
· The video he directed about how community justice groups could assist in sentencing
· The changing work of the district court from civil matters to primarily criminal matters and how that played a role in his decision to retire from the bench at age 60.
· His work in the disability area relating to accessibility on public transport including his inquiry into the procurement of the New Generation Rollingstock trains by the Queensland government.
· How the law changed after his inquiry into tow truck legislation; and
· The plethora of articles and books that he has authored whilst he was on the bench and since retiring.
This interview was inspiring. I loved the story Michael told about one of his associates Ashley Jones who on one occasion accompanied him on a circuit and was unable to carry Michael’s bags because of a disability (apparently an essential requirement when seeking a judge’s associate position) so when they arrived at this country courthouse, the court official brushed past Michael and went to straight to his associate and addressed him as “Judge Forde”. I don’t know how he thought a young man not yet 30 could have been the judge!. I’m sure that would have been quite an awkward situation for everyone involved.
If you want to contact Michael please drop me a line through my website. Michael has said that he is happy to speak to particularly students who may have questions for him.