Joseph Anthony Moore


'G’day – Joe Moore'

Joseph Anthony Moore T hey were the words Joe usually uttered when he met someone for the first time. Simultaneously with those words, Joe extended his hand in greeting and produced his generous smile and transfixed his new acquaintance with direct eye contact. Of course, the scene was set for a rewarding exchange which could be brief or continue for many years.

Joe met his lifelong friend, Victor Kelly, in 1956 when they both commenced working for the State Crown Solicitor’s Office.

Joe’s zest for life was evident from the early days as he organised boat cruises, beach picnics and parties. It is remembered that Joe’s appreciation of motor vehicles began with the purchase of a 1929 Whippet which he enjoyed racing around Northbridge.

Vic recalls when he and Joe were both living in Mosman someone crashed their vehicle into Vic’s car when it was parked in the street. The offender decamped; however, a bystander placed the offender’s registration details under Victor’s car’s windscreen. When Vic reported the event to the police they were not particularly interested, but did identify the offender by name and provided her address.

Joe accompanied Vic to the offender’s residence where contact was made and the woman denied all knowledge of the event until Vic pointed to his witness, standing stern and silent at her front gate. It was Joe.

Joseph Anthony Moore seated in judicial robes

Vic received due compensation.

John Ireland remembers well being in chambers with Joe for five years between 1976 and 1980 on the ground floor Wentworth Chambers, and then, when Peter Crittle founded Edmund Barton Chambers on level 43 MLC, Joe, John, Peter O’Connor and Chris Hickey became fellow floor members.

Joe is remembered fondly by those who met him on the 'fighting forty-third'.

In 1980 Joe played in the New South Wales Bar rugby team and competition alongside John Ireland and Chris Hickey against the New South Wales Solicitors.

Joe was firmly of the view that the Australian rugby selectors had got the team selection all wrong and they did not need a team of 15, but rather could defeat all comers with the extremely talented team of the Moore brothers – Paddy and Tony.

Joe had a very busy practice, mostly common law work, which continued to flourish until he accepted appointment to the District Court bench in 1983.

Joseph Anthony Moore at his desk

He was a keen pilot, and while at the Bar flew to country circuits whenever he could.

For 17 years from 1983 Joe sat full-time as a well-regarded judge in both civil and crime cases.

Michael Elkaim, a fellow floor member, who became a judge of the District Court and is now a judge of the ACT Supreme Court, remembers Joe as welcoming and friendly. Upon Joe’s appointment to the Bench, he immediately established a reputation as generous to plaintiffs and fair to offenders.

It was the view of his Honour Justice Michael Elkaim that this was no surprise to anyone, as it was completely consistent with Joe’s gentle nature and kind outlook on life.

Those barristers and solicitors who appeared before him were always given a fair go and knew the result they obtained or did not obtain was for the right motives.

Michael Elkaim encapsulated Joe in the following terms:

'The thing about Joe to me was that he was a person who seemed to like everyone he met. That was because of his innate decency and that’s why I and all his other friends liked him so much.'

Joseph Anthony Moore in his library

John Nicholson SC, Rainbow Lodge past president, recalls Joe as follows:

'His understanding and compassionate sentence for both victim and offender was always visible. He understood and practised the legal requirement that incarceration of an offender was a sentence of last resort. That is, having considered the facts of the offence and relevant facts about the person standing for sentence, the judicial officer recognises that the only appropriate sentence available is one of imprisonment. Judge Moore also understood that having made a decision to imprison a person, given that it was a sentence of last resort, the duration of the sentence should be the least required by the law. He well knew that persons sent to prison were very likely to leave prison more damaged and vulnerable than when they arrived.

After retirement from the Bench, Joe Moore’s interest in the post-custodial release of prisoners found focus in the Rainbow Lodge program. Rainbow Lodge, named after Judge Alf Rainbow, is a halfway house supported by the Corrective Services, offering 12 weeks of accommodation to homeless prisoners released on parole. He joined the Rainbow Lodge, Board circa early 2010. He took over presidency of the Board towards the end of 2012. His tenure as president was cut short by illness – but even so, much was accomplished. He wrestled with the Department of Corrective Services, seeking guaranteed income stream suitable for the servicing and management of Rainbow Lodge as a full eight paroled prisoners’ residential house. Working with a new manager he restored Rainbow Lodge to a full on post-custodial reintegration centre dealing with 35 to 40 residents annually. Having recovered from his illness, he remained on the Board as its Vice President and oversaw the Rainbow Lodge program extend to offering two years of outreach service to former residents. His contribution, along with its manager was to inject a new lease of life for Rainbow Lodge.

Until his passing, he would travel some 90 minutes each way to attend meetings. His input to the Board, while it included a great eye for detail, can best be described as its ethical and moral conscience.'

Part of his daily routine while at the Bar was a bit like this:

Arrive early, deal with incoming mail and the like, go to Court, manage to be back in Chambers before 1 p.m. – you guessed it – lunchtime.

In those circumstances, it was almost compulsory to pop out for, as Joe would say, 'a bite to eat'. Lunch with Joe was always wonderful, he was a great raconteur, especially talented in recalling and telling jokes and tales. Joe mastered the subtle art of checking for bottle variation in both red and white wines. It was usually over lunch that Joe regaled his fellow diners with the talents of his children.

Joe was always an honoured and welcome guest at the Hickey's home where he interacted with their three children, who, upon hearing the news of his passing, all took the trouble to ring their father and recount how favourably they recall their time spent with Joe in various circumstances.

Sometimes when Joe came to lunch he over-marinated himself and forgot to go home – often he would be found a day or so later. His friends thought he bunked down with the Irish Wolfhounds.

Joe often came on holiday with his friends and their families to Byron Bay, and there exhibited his enduring love of photography, which resulted in thousands of photographs of all sorts of things, and all of the photos had to be seen.

Joe was so involved in photography he lost all sense of time.

Joe’s enthusiasm for life expanded exponentially when he fell in love with Francine, who soon became his wife and best mate.

His friends remember well the time in summer when Joe and Francine joined them for a stay in Perisher Valley. Francine and Joe’s love for each other was obvious to all.

John Ireland well remembers meeting Joe in the front bar of the George IV Hotel at Picton and attending the regular 'Irish nights at the George Hotel'. An impromptu band would congregate with an array of musical instruments and Joe – known universally as 'the judge' – would generally perform one or more songs in his solo repertoire to the delight of all present.

There was a scholarly side to Joe, and in recent years he would often be absorbed in a book drawn from his extensive library, particularly in the areas of military or aviation history, the natural sciences and art and music.

His interest in the law never ceased. From 2006 to 2009 he was appointed a visiting professor in the School of Law at Western Sydney University where he regularly gave talks and assisted students in court craft and advocacy.

He taught at local primary schools in Douglas Park and Wilton.

Peter O’Connor has been able, through the assistance of the New South Wales Bar Library, to obtain a copy of a decision of Joe’s published in (1985) 2 NSWLR, R v McConnell at page 269.

It was a case which dealt with the fact that a delay in bringing an accused to trial may constitute an infringement of his constitutional right to a prompt hearing, thus nullifying the proceedings.

Justice Rares, who then appeared for the accused as Steven Rares of counsel, wrote an article in respect of Lord Denning of Whitchurch upon Lord Denning’s death.

In that article Steven Rares records the following in respect of Lord Denning:

In 1985 he wrote as Chairman of the Magna Carta Trust that the decision of Moore DCJ [that is, Joe] in Reg v McConnell to discharge an accused who had been brought to trial in breach of the promise in Magna Carta that 'to no-one will we sell, to no-one will we deny right or justice' was 'a decision after my own heart'.

Joe enjoyed an active retirement and his love of the outdoors continued to the end. Joe had a successful and distinguished legal career, well known for exercising his judicial functions with courtesy and respect to all who appeared before him. He was an intelligent and sensitive man who looked for the good in everyone he encountered.

He was a devoted husband to Francine and he will always be remembered with great affection and warmth by those who knew him.

Joe’s passing has left an enormous void in everyone’s life, none more so than Francine.

Justice Michael Elkaim, John Ireland QC, John Nicholson SC, Victor Kelly,

Peter O’Connor, Chris Hickey