Lawyer on cocaine charge spared with reference from retired federal judge

A Sydney magistrate nearly ended this young lawyer’s career but had a change of heart when she realised who wrote his reference.

Lawyer on cocaine charge spared with reference from retired federal judge
A Sydney magistrate was set to convict 31-year-old judge’s associate James Cowled but changed her mind when she realised his character reference came from a retired federal court judge.

Cowled pled guilty to possession of cocaine after police found him with a bag back in March.

“What’s the use of a character reference,” magistrate Lisa Stapleton said.

“You were found in possession of cocaine.  If the person says this was out of character for you they don’t know you very well so why shouldn’t I convict you of this offence?”

According to a report by The Daily Telegraph, Stapleton fell silent when Cowled told her he was a judge’s associate, before asking to read the reference by retired judge Michael Lloyd-Jones.

“I must say telling my former judge was one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life,” Cowled said, telling the court that his current boss, also a Federal Circuit Court judge, was unaware of the charges.

“You are not the first person in the justice system to appear before the court for possession of a drug,” Stapleton said.

“But the fact you do work in the justice system doesn’t mean you have to have higher standards than everyone else, the law applies equally.”

Cowled was sentenced to a 12-month good behaviour bond with no conviction.

Free newsletter

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter service and we’ll keep you up-to-date with the latest breaking news, cutting edge opinion, and expert analysis affecting both your business and the industry as whole.

Please enter your email address below and click on Sign Up for daily newsletters from Australasian Lawyer.

Recent articles & video

Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers promotes 11

KWM assists fintech company on acquisition and $170m capital raising

Outgoing US bar president asks lawyers to step up against racial injustice in final address

Allen & Overy advises on $6.1bn debt financing for Australian broadband giant

Victoria launches inaugural legal program dedicated to trans and gender-diverse community

Clifford Chance Singapore ally attracts litigation star

Most Read Articles

Ashurst snaps up PwC partner

Clayton Utz represents in $643m sale of Rialto Tower interest

Bird & Bird partner believes that sports is ‘a force for good’

Moulis Legal appoints new partner