Well done: Nicholas Reimer
Well done: Nicholas Reimer

Lismore magistrate calls it quits

A PROMINENT Lismore magistrate, the oldest still serving in NSW, has called it quits after reaching the compulsory retiring age of 72, set by himself some years earlier.

Nicholas Reimer from Ballina retired from the position over the weekend after his 2003 amendment to extend the magistrate compulsory retiring age from 65 to 72 was personally met.

Mr Reimer ended his successful career a day after his 72nd birthday and has set a fine example of seniors in the workforce in the midst of the current Seniors Week celebrations.

“I would have been happy to keep going with my job if I could,” he said.

“I felt it was discriminatory for the age to be different for the supreme and district courts compared to the local courts. And I argued that we all do the same job.

“I persuaded a lot of people and then the attorney general and then it was put through parliament.

“And now I have run out of time.”

Mr Reimer spent his early years at various private practices in NSW before moving to the bench as a magistrate in Sydney in 1990 and then to the Northern Rivers 10 years later.

Alongside the influential amendment to the compulsory retiring age, Mr Reimer also instigated the introduction of ‘circle sentencing’ in local courts.

Circle sentencing involves the sentencing of aboriginal juveniles who sit in a circle with a magistrate and their aboriginal elders who find consequences for the crimes.

This form of sentencing, the ‘Reimer Amendment’ as local legal workers call it and a few local memorable cases mark the highlights of Mr Reimer’s career

“A lot of aboriginal people don’t understand the court process and they have more respect for their elders,” Mr Reimer said.

“This is where circle sentencing has been a very useful tool.

“I was involved in an inquest into a birth out near Nimbin and it dealt with midwives, mothers and homebirthing.

“It was a few years ago but I was rallying for safety for all midwives, babies and mothers. That case would have to be one of the high points.”

Despite being extremely modest of his achievements, friend and legal aid worker Hugh Van Dughtren has nothing but praises for the retiree.

“He is a great lawyer, a passionate man who really gave people the option for rehabilitation,” he said.

“He had a focus on the diversion from court or jail and he loved his job.

And now that Mr Reimer’s career is over, he plans to devote more time to his love for fishing while living out his retirement in Ballina.

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