Weekend wrap: Industry mourns death of prominent legal figure

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A prominent Melbourne barrister tragically died this week;  One MP is calling to abandon the fly-in, fly-out model for judges in the bush and a Brisbane crown lawyer is seeking $200,000 in compensation in a defamation claim against the state.

The legal industry is mourning the death of prominent Melbourne barrister Ross Ray QC who died in a quad bike accident at his hobby farm near Mansfield.

Ray, formerly president of the Law Council of Australia and chair of the Victorian Bar, appeared before several Royal Commissions and worked as a prosecutor on behalf of WorkSafe Victoria in its case against Essendon Football Club’s supplements program.

The MP for Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall, is calling for the fly-in, fly-out model for judges to be eliminated, citing the benefits of having a judge living where they work.

“Judges living here in the regions would deliver more cost-effective and efficient justice,” he said.

Marshall said the ‘Judges for the Bush’ proposal would reduce delays and tackle the backlog which reached 2000 cases at the end of last year.

A Brisbane crown lawyer is seeking $200,000 in compensation over a defamation claim.  He alleges that the Deputy Crown solicitor Helen Freemantle defamed him in a meeting saying, “we won’t get Jeremy Weston to do it because he’ll say something stupid and ridiculous that we’ll have to fix up later”.

He claims the comments caused damage to his personal and professional reputations, distress and embarrassment.