Judge Roger Dive to retire after 50 years in law13th July 2021
It is a rare judge who receives a Christmas card from a prison inmate containing a cheery promise to “come and see you when I get out”.
It’s an even rarer judge who has fostered 60 children with his wife of almost 50 years. But NSW Drug Court Senior Judge Roger Dive makes empathy and a high-powered legal career look easy.
The former magistrate, head of the NSW Children’s Court and District Court judge has opted to retire next month at the age of 68, seven years shy of the judicial retirement age of 75, after 50 years in the justice system including 32 years on the bench.
He leaves behind a legion of fans, including former offenders, and plans to devote some of his time in retirement to volunteering with people experiencing homelessness.
Attorney-General Mark Speakman said Judge Dive’s “compassion for, understanding of, and dedication to, the people who appear before him is well known”, as was his “humanity, humility and intelligence”.
The Sydney-born Judge Dive described his 17 years heading the specialist Drug Court, an Australian-first when established in 1999, as the “most exciting and interesting of my working life”.
The court sits in the Sydney CBD, Parramatta and the Hunter region and, thanks to a $27.9 million budget promise this year, will be expanded to Dubbo. He said it was exactly 15 years since he “laid out my grand plan” for Dubbo Drug Court, and he was “delighted it’s finally been announced”.
The court works with drug-dependent adults from the Local and District Courts who plead guilty to offences, excluding serious crimes such as sexual assault, and enrols them in a 12-month program aimed at keeping them out of prison by breaking the cycle of drug dependency and crime via intensive health and social support.
While some offenders may still be jailed, a decade-long study released last year found the reoffending rate among participants was 17 per cent lower than for people outside the program.