After a career that has seen this 64-year-old tick off roles such as chief justice, and preside over notorious cases including the Snowtown “bodies in the barrels” case, keeping a un-blinkered focus during the Rayney trial is unlikely to prove a challenge.
Born in South Australia, semi-retired Justice Martin has been called to WA to judge the high-profile case unfettered by friendships or experiences that risked tainting the State’s own judiciary given Mr Rayney and his wife’s senior legal positions.
It was 20 years ago that Justice Martin was already making a name for himself in WA, acting as senior counsel assisting the WA Inc royal commission, which investigated government dealings with business in the 1980s.
His rise up the legal ladder saw the Queen’s counsel appointed Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions in 1997 and then a South Australian Supreme Court judge from 1999 to 2004.
During this time, he presided over the grisly, complicated Snowtown jury trial that centred on the deaths of 12 people. The case, involving nine months of evidence, is cited by the judge as the most difficult he has dealt with.
From 2004 to 2010 he was chief justice of the Northern Territory, presiding in 2005 over the Bradley Murdoch trial over case centring on the outback murder of Peter Falconio, whose body has still not been found.
Unlike in those murder trials, Justice Martin will now act as both judge and jury in the circumstantial Rayney case.
Justice Martin now bears the job of weighing up the evidence, which is expected to run for up to five months, along with ruling on the legal arguments that will likely arise during the epic legal battle.
Tolerant and forthright, Justice Martin has already shown himself during a string of pre-trial hearings in the case as keeping a close firm eye on the issues and drawing a line if pushed.Whatever his final conclusion is in the Rayney case, the verdict is set to rock WA.
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