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NSW Local Court, District Court welcome new magistrates

Attorney-General Mark Speakman has announced that three magistrates and two deputy chief magistrates would join the Local Court, while the District Court welcomes the addition of two new judges.

user iconNaomi Neilson 20 December 2021 Big Law
NSW Local Court, District Court welcome new magistrates
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Commenting on the appointments in the Local Court, Mr Speakman said it would strengthen the busiest court’s ability to deliver more efficient justice under the government’s $56.1 million investment in addition to bringing in more targeted specialisation for domestic violence matters.  

“These five appointments will together help equip the Local Court to deal efficiently with a caseload that amounts to 96 per cent of all criminal prosecutions and more than 90 per cent of civil matters before the state’s courts,” Mr Speakman said.

Magistrates Sharon Freund and Theo Tsavdaridis have commenced as deputy chief magistrates, boosting the number in total to three. Magistrate Freund, who replaces former deputy chief magistrate Jane Mottley, will focus on domestic violence cases.


New magistrates Emma Manea, Catherine Samuels and Stephen Barlow brings the total number of judicial officers on the bench to 144. Further appointments of extra magistrates in the coming months will boost that number to 149.

“The people of NSW are indeed fortunate to have at their disposal the wealth of legal talent represented by these appointees. They will bring their broad experience and deep understanding of the law to their new roles on the bench,” Mr Speakman said.

Meanwhile, Sydney silk Peter McGrath SC and litigator Penny Musgrave have been added to the ranks of judicial officers serving in the NSW District Court.

Mr McGrath’s legal career spans almost 40 years, culminating with his role at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions as deputy director and, periodically, as acting DPP. He has also practised at the private bar, has worked as an NSW deputy senior public defender and was involved in the Walama List working group.

Ms Musgrave has practised in private, community, state and federal settings, including the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and the former NSW Department of Justice, where she was director of the criminal law review.  

“The wealth of skills and knowledge of both of these appointees will be invaluable as they take their roles administering the NSW justice system,” Mr Speakman said.