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Legal profession remembers respected judge

Legal profession remembers respected judge

John Toohey

Former High Court Justice John Toohey QC, who presided over the landmark Mabo decision, has died aged 85.

Law Society president Matthew Keogh described Mr Toohey as one of Australia’s most eminent jurists following his death last week (9 April).

“He held many esteemed roles and made a valuable and lasting contribution,” Mr Keogh said. “His life is celebrated, and his passing mourned, by many.

“There are few people who have given more to the practice of law and service to justice.”

Mr Toohey was one of six High Court judges in 1992 to hear the landmark Mabo case, which recognised native title in Australia for the first time.

The High Court rejected the doctrine of terra nullius in favour of the common law doctrine of Aboriginal title.

Mr Toohey was appointed to the High Court in 1987 after serving on the Federal Court of Australia and Supreme Court of the Northern Territory.

He was also a president of the Western Australian Bar Association; the inaugural Aboriginal Land Commissioner for the Northern Territory; the inaugural lawyer at the Port Hedland office of the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia; and a visiting professor at the University of Western Australia.

In September 2000, Mr Toohey was appointed as an independent member of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry into the killings in Derry, Northern Ireland, in 1972.

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