Albany’s Most Influential — the magistrate
Few people can have such a direct and dramatic influence on the course of someone’s life as a judge or magistrate.
Since she was appointed a magistrate in WA in 2016, Raelene Johnston has wielded significant influence in Albany.
The courts are busy in a city of 35,000-plus and Ms Johnston has had the final say on hundreds of cases in the past 18 months.
The prosecution and the defence can say their piece, but she’s the one who makes the call.
Sometimes that call involves taking away a person’s freedom.
Her judgments can be found in the pages of the Albany Advertiser — and they often go beyond the specifics of a decision or a sentence.
But you won’t find her photo here, because the Department of Justice prefers not to share the appearance of judges and magistrates.
She has commented on the “insidious effects” of methamphetamine, lamented the prevalence of one-punch attacks in the community and slammed a repeat offender for wasting his potential.
Some of her decisions have been criticised as too soft. No doubt some people have viewed other decisions as too harsh.
Ms Johnston started her legal career as an articled clerk in 1996, and within three years, she was a State prosecutor.
She holds plenty of sway in this city, but if you never cross paths, that might be for the best.
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