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Justice Sarah Huggett is confirmed to replace Justice Derek Price, who is retiring from the role at the end of April. She makes history as the first woman appointed as Chief Judge of the District Court of NSW.

Attorney General Michael Daley announced the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Sarah Huggett as Chief Judge of the District Court of New South Wales. She will be the first woman to serve in this role.

Justice Huggett, appointed to the Supreme Court in 2023, is an experienced and respected judge who served on the NSW District Court Bench for 12 years.

Throughout her career, she worked to improve the experiences of women, children and Indigenous people in contact with the legal system. Justice Huggett was also instrumental in updating the Criminal Trial Bench Book and presided over high-profile and complex matters, including the trial of convicted murderer Christopher Dawson.

“I am delighted to appoint Justice Sarah Huggett to the role of Chief Judge of the District Court of NSW,” Daley said.

“She makes history by becoming the first woman Chief Judge, and she is richly deserving of that honour.”

Born in Moree, the daughter of a police officer, she started practising at the NSW Bar. In 1993 she joined the Office the Director of Public Prosecutions and was the DPP’s sole instructing solicitor in the prosecution of Ivan Milat. She was appointed Crown Prosecutor in 2001 and later sworn in as a District Court Judge in 2012.

Law Society President Brett McGrath has congratulated Justice Huggett on her appointment, saying she brings “an extraordinary breadth of experience to this role”.

Justice Huggett also participated in the District Court’s Walama List, a trial of alternative sentencing procedures aimed at reducing the incarceration and reoffence rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“In addition to her outstanding history in criminal law as a solicitor, barrister and Crown Prosecutor, Justice Huggett has also been involved in diversionary and pioneering models of justice,” said McGrath.

In a press release, Chief Justice Andrew Bell congratulated Justice Huggett on her appointment.

“The office of Chief Judge of the District Court of New South Wales is a most important one in the administration of justice in the State,” Chief Justice Bell said.

“Justice Huggett, as Chief Judge, will bring strong leadership to the Court, drawing on her deep experience, integrity, strength of character, outstanding work ethic, sense of justice and commitment to public service.”

McGrath noted the significance of Justice Huggett’s appointment as the first woman in the role.

“The increased diversity of the legal profession is pulling us into the future, and we are stronger for it,” he said.

Chief Justice Bell will officially swear in Justice Huggett in his office on Monday, 29 April, when her commission takes effect.