Judge Peter Zahra, a NSW Disctrict Court Judge was appointed to the bench in 2007, and passed away in hospital on Sunday 8th May after suffering a stroke.
Judge Zahra was one of the Law Day Out Programs biggest supporters. From the infancy of the program His Honour volunteered his time to speak to students and enrich their understanding of the legal system particularly the role the judiciary plays.
His Honour took speaking to students seriously and went above and beyond what was expected of judicial officers. His Honour had a unique and informative presentation that included a video. His Honour took an interactive approach providing the students the opportunity to experience the process of a trial and engage in a role play that allowed them to grapple with the difficult nature of sentencing. His Honour focused on teaching the students about the intricacies of sentencing and ensured students appreciated the fact that the process isn’t black and white. There are many factors that judges need to take into consideration in sentencing and the sessions His Honour presented ensured the students he meet always left having an appreciation of this. The students that meet with His Honour gained a real understanding of the importance of judicial discretion and fundamental rule of law principles.
As one teacher remarked following a meeting with his His Honour,
“It was such a unique privilege for the Year 12 students to meet His Honour and experience his insights into how complex the law is in handing down sentences for individuals in our society. The scenario His Honour presented was excellent in highlighting the importance of how the law is determined at levels above the judiciary and then how they are enforced. The content was highly relevant, and students remarked afterwards how much they gained from His Honour’s presentation in relation to how an individual offender, who has not had the best life opportunities, needs to be considered with compassion. Also, to hear His Honour’s explanation about how society doesn’t always have a complete understanding of the serious and complex issues that can impact these offenders in relation to the wider community’s expectations. The students came away from their experience with an appreciation of how difficult and challenging the decisions judges, such as His Honour has to determine every day. Overall, it highlighted how lucky Australian society is to have such highly trained and experienced judges working in our judicial system.”
Students have described the excursion where they met with Judge Zahra as “the best excursions ever” and the feedback received from teachers repeatedly requested to meet with Judge Peter Zahra as students and teachers loved the interactive nature of the talk he gave as it developed the students understanding of the legal system.
His Honour was always willing and giving of his time. His Honour would review teaching resources and proposal providing invaluable suggestions and feedback on ways that we could improve our programs. His Honour devoted a great deal of his time to court education and we are incredibly appreciative and grateful for the lasting impact His Honour has had on our program and the many high school students who had the opportunity to meet him.