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Advocacy

Death of senior Magistrate reveals pressures of the job

The recent suicide of respected Magistrate Stephen Myall shows the pressures to which members of the judiciary and legal community are exposed.

Such pressures were exacerbated in Stephen’s case when, after making a decision to grant a boy bail in order to sit his exams, he faced an intensely critical response from certain sections of the media. The attacks on the decision to grant bail did not set out the reasoning behind it. The hyperbole involved in such reporting is harmful to judicial independence and the rule of law.

Andrew Rule’s thoughtful article about the life of Stephen Myall in the Herald Sun on Sunday 25 March, entitled Muggsy, a man who cared too much, was published too late to make a difference.
I knew Steven and had the immense privilege of doing work experience with him as a high school student so much of this story takes on a personal resonance.

It is of course impossible to know what might have prompted the former Magistrate’s death but the increasing intensity and regularity of the attacks upon our judiciary and the associated impact this can have on their mental health should be of concern to all.

Stephen Myall’s funeral in Kyneton was attended by former Premier Steve Bracks and several present and former State Cabinet Ministers, numerous Judges and Magistrates and too many solicitors and barristers to count. He is sadly missed by all who knew him. He was a fine man who worked all his life to assist the under privileged.

Vale Stephen.

Carlo Dellora
Treasurer, ICJ Victoria