Retiring Magistrate Judith Fleming was farewelled from the bench of the Coffs Harbour Local Court.
Retiring Magistrate Judith Fleming was farewelled from the bench of the Coffs Harbour Local Court. TREVOR VEALE

Tributes flow for Ma'am

MAGISTRATE Judith Fleming has called it a day, stepping down from the bench after six years presiding over the Coffs Harbour Local Court.

At her official farewell in court yesterday, Deputy Chief Magistrate Jane Mottley paid homage to Magistrate Fleming’s service as a fellow magistrate, a colleague and a friend.

A packed courtroom of registry staff, court officers, police and members of the local legal fraternity farewelled the woman they refer to affectionately as “Ma’am”.

Prosecutors and solicitors praised her consistency in sentencing, her work ethic in handling heavy workloads, while sharing light-hearted moments of her time in the courtroom.

Solicitor Scott James, on behalf of the NSW Law Society, said Magistrate Fleming’s ability to know every detail of every case intimately was exceptional.

Barrister John Carty, representing the Bar Association, said Magistrate Fleming was learned in the law and her quick wit would be missed in the courtroom.

“Magistrate Fleming has showed leniency on occasions that were deserved, and heavy punishment where that was also deserved,” Mr Carty said.

Magistrate Fleming said she was leaving the bench “safe in the knowledge she has full confidence in her judgments”.

She took the opportunity to publicly praise the work of court and registry staff.

Speaking candidly about her time in Coffs Harbour, she said work as a magistrate in a

regional centre was infused in the local culture.

“Often I would leave for the day with my files under one arm, and eggs or a pumpkin in the other,” she said.

“No longer will I have to turn a blind eye to the pizza delivery boy, who I know is driving unlicensed,” she joked.

In retirement, Magistrate Fleming said she looked forward to life outside of judicial office, writing letters to the papers and visiting family in France.

“As my brother said to me... Magistrates don’t retire, they adjourn to Paris,” she said.



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