Friday, 6 July 2012

All Dunn

For the most part I've so far avoided in this blog discussing personalities in our legal system, even though there are some larger-than-life characters who frequent our courts, both on the Bench and at the Bar Table.

Today I'm making an exception to that self-imposed rule.

Today, my former colleague, mentor, and my friend, Ian Dunn, retires after 50 years in the police force. I shall miss him dearly, and his retirement will be a great loss to both the police force and Prosecutions Division, and to our community. It just doesn't seem right in the natural order of things for Dunnie to not be sitting at a mess-room table somewhere come Monday, cutting an apple with his knife, throwing a tea-bag at the bin (and more often than not, missing), and telling stories with as many twists and laughs as a Two Ronnies joke.

I guess most of us encounter people throughout our life who we remember for making a difference or teaching us something. Ian is and was such a person for many people, not just me, and is something of a minor celebrity in Victoria Police. Partly for his encyclopaedic knowledge of the law and evidence, and his fearless and relentless advocacy. But also for his strength of character and preparedness to taking 'the bastards' on, whomever they happened to be. Ian was well regarded for challenging various 'bosses' throughout the police force for all sorts of shortcomings, and standing up for doing the right thing. Though it sometimes came at some personal cost to him, his reputation for being frank and fearless earnt Ian much well-deserved respect and admiration from his colleagues, and from folks he dealt with in the courts. He was well regarded as a cunning, crafty and tenacious advocate who did his job with integrity. I know one silk who considers Dunnie amongst the finest advocates he's encountered.

We often hear talk about 'corporate memory', which masks the fact that it's individuals like Ian who hold those memories and that accumulated knowledge and experience. I never ceased to be amazed by the times I would have a question and Ian would search through his renowned collection of folders and produce some on-point case I had never heard of. More than a few of them involved him originally as informant or prosecutor — and so he could tell us all about the back-story and the individuals involved. (A couple of them were decided before I was even born!) His legendary filing system was put to other good use too: Ian had an extraordinary collection of humorous and slightly-damming reports, photos, notes, letters and emails he could produce at short notice for a laugh about our foibles and stuff-ups.

Amazingly, Ian's passion for prosecuting and policing is just as strong as ever. After 50 years, and on the cusp of retiring, you'd think he might be tidying up his desk — that was always on his to-do list — and taking things easy. But, I was at Heidelberg yesterday, and there he was, in court, still fighting the good fight, as he had for much of the week.

I know Ian will be embarrassed by this small hagiography, but I think it's important to publicly mark his achievements. It was my absolute pleasure and privilege to work with him and share an office with him for a number of years, and I'm proud to say I learnt a lot from him in that time. Indeed, a mutual friend often accuses me of being an Ian Dunn Mini-Me, and I always reply, "I'm comfortable with that."

Enjoy your retirement pal. You'll be missed

Things I learnt from Ian Dunn

  • Many legal questions can be solved by knowing the answer to, "What does the Act say?"
  • It's always worth asking, "Is that right?"
  • Never be afraid to admit, "I don't know."
  • Shiraz is a good solution to a lot of things
  • Computers always work better when you swear at them
  • It's important to enjoy what you do and have fun at work, and to take pride in doing your job well


Anonymous said...

Ditto. Ariva derchi, Dunnie.

Anonymous said...

Great article. Dunnie you mean so much to so many people.
Something I learnt from Dunnie:
don't steal all his clothes (leaving just his boots and a few squares of paper towel) while his is in the shower - that's just not nice.

V said... always made me laugh. Hope you are well. Take care V.

RW said...

I was lucky enough to witness Ian swearing at technology, in my case,the photocopier when I copied an authority in a book and reduced the original to copy ratio and walked away from it.

A privilege to have known him and to have benefited from being taught the little I know as a prosecutor by him.

Anonymous said...

Dunnie, wish you well and I'll never forget (as a duo with Tony)who gave me the stepping stones to my career as a prosecutor. Many thanks. MC

Anonymous said...

The Ian I knew

I didn't have much exposure to ID in his long term path as a prosecutor, but I had the privilege of working with and respecting him highly as an operational policeman through the early 1980's. It was a different time with only rudimentary technology to assist us in our contests with bikinis,violent offenders, escapees,drug dealers,armed robbers and a myriad of other problem people as well as dealing with the defenseless and the sad. Through it all Dunnie held a calming intelligent approach with a great turn of phrase and a cryptic wit that saw us inevitably uphold the right for the good.

Ian I always though you would have made the best of Being an Officereven though I know you did regard rank as an aspiration not worth pursuing and maybe, you were right. Your value to many over the long years in VicPol and the community was how you went about your valued earlier operational times when I was a colleague and then your long term mentoring to many as a skilled prosecutor.

I wish you a long healthy retirement.

Regards old friend.