Class of 1979

When John was at Aquinas he studied and played hard before becoming one of the most well-known and well-liked members of the judiciary in WA. He excelled at Drama, debating, film and other creative arts under the tuition of Juliana Hammond. Left to

his own devices he would have pursued a career

in journalism but Brothers Kevin Paul, Carey and O’Loughlin were influences on him and had other ideas directing him to Law instead. John is the adopted son of an Old Aquinian and farmer Brian Prior from Moora.

After graduating in 1979 he read Law at UWA graduating with a Bachelor of Jurisprudence and

Law in 1984. He completed his articles at Talbot and Olivier the same year and was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court and also to the Federal Court and High Court of Australia. He worked in civil, criminal and commercial litigation, family law, mining law and property. However, rather than pursue partnership at the firm he chose to travel taking a

late “gap year” and spent 18 months in the early 90s away, six of them working in well-heeled hotels of the famous ski resort, Whistler, Canada. There he met all kinds of people and made quite an impact as the most articulate and qualified doorman the luxury resort had ever seen.

He returned to Perth joining top legal firm William Ellison in 1991, at the invitation of Chris Ellison quickly making partner, and ran a barristers’ practice. Admitted to the Bar in 2006, John joined Francis Burt Chambers. His reputation as a lawyer has grown with his career and he has handled many difficult, high profile cases such as that of Jemma Lilley.

Most recently, Judge John was appointed to

the District Court in March 2018. He has also been President, Treasurer and Secretary for the Criminal Lawyers Association. John is married to Suzy Morrison and they have two sons Tom 23 and Jonathan 19.

An animated Dockers fan: it was noted at his welcome ceremony to the District Court that watching the Dockers on television was not as entertaining as

“watching His Honour watch the Dockers!” John was a keen sportsman both at school and later in life, coaching football and playing hockey.

Looking back he remembers “the Brothers treated everyone equally”. They lived by the ethos “everyone is created equal, and they deserve an equal opportunity”. It has been said of Judge John: “No cause was ever a lost cause”.