'We're not the fun police' says magistrate with a message

Former Gympie Magistrate Maxine Baldwin in on the move after nine years as the region's top judicial officer.
Former Gympie Magistrate Maxine Baldwin in on the move after nine years as the region's top judicial officer. Renee Albrecht

POLICE do not always conduct themselves appropriately, but nor to magistrates, doctors or the media.

We can only do our best, says former Gympie magistrate Maxine Baldwin, who is not quite leaving town after accepting a part-time judicial appointment in Maroochydore.

"We're not the fun police," she would often tell people on drug or drink driving charges, as she presided over the Gympie Magistrates Court in Channon St.

The law, as Mrs Baldwin has frequently explained it, is there to protect people's rights.

Those who want to live outside the law, might consider moving to Mexico or Syria, she has sometimes said, adding that these are the places where the law of the gun applies instead of the rule of law.

Sometimes, Mrs Baldwin has admitted even she gets tired of the sound of her own voice as she delivers her message on the need for law and order.

"You are fortunate we are not here conducting an inquest into your death," she will often tell high range drink drivers.

"I wish I could sentence you to a term in the Coroner's Court," she will also sometimes add, admitting to errant drivers that she too is a different person on the road since she became intimately aware, as a magistrate, of the tragic consequences of bad driving.

The Coroner's Court is a place where fatal crashes are analysed "nanosecond by nanosecond."

"I'm a different driver since I started in this job," she says.

Mrs Baldwin moved from teaching to law and became Queensland's first female accredited family law specialist outside Brisbane.

A mentor for young female lawyers, she was Female Lawyer of the Year in 2005. A magistrate since 2007, she was awarded life membership of the Queensland Law Society in 2015.

She says Gympie people are fortunate to live in a relatively law-abiding and stable community.

Topics:  gympie court gympie crime gympie magistrates court law and liberty maxine baldwin

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