A brief Profile of Jim Duggan
Jim was brought up in Brighton but for the last 28 years has called Elwood home.
His father, as a magistrate, was keen for his son to take up Law – so Jim decided to do architecture at Melbourne University. He really enjoyed architecture but, as is often the case with young people, he didn’t apply himself. In other words, he failed.
As a result, through the good graces of his father, he found himself in the public service working as a humble bench clerk.
Back on the law pathway, he headed off to Melbourne University again, this time to undertake Law with the firm intention of joining the Bar, which he did. Jim recalls that it was a good time to join the Bar: legal activity was rapidly expanding resulting in plenty of work. “The Bar is a great place to be if your phone is ringing”,” Jim says. “Otherwise, it’s a desolate place.” His early days were very demanding, facing his first jury trial in his first three weeks. In fact, the first jury address he heard was his own. “It was a disaster”. But the only way to learn was to watch and listen to others. He had the sobering experience of undertaking a murder trial in his first 18 months and having his client sentenced to death – forever searing him in his implacable opposition to capital punishment. The sentence was commuted, of course. One of his earliest mentors was the very public-spirited Richard McGarvie, onetime Governor of Victoria.
Jim spent 16 years at the Bar, mainly in civil jury work acting for people injured in motor vehicle or industrial accidents or by asbestos exposure or medical negligence. But the longest part of his career was as a County Court Judge serving from age 42 to 72, one of the longest judicial careers in the State’s history. This was mainly in criminal jury trials. That list is now dominated by sex abuse trials and drug related offences. Sex abuse trials are demanding of all concerned. The ordeal for the victim is still dreadful, but, at least, much better now than it was.
Jim is married with three kids and four grandchildren. He is married to Anne, who is also a lawyer. She has recently retired from a position as a member of VCAT.
Jim’s main other interest is cosmology – the history and structure of the universe – and astrophysics, the branch of physics that has taught us what we know of the universe.