Peter Kidd entered Prince Alfred College in Year 6 in 1976, completing Year 12 at the end of 1982, and was Captain of the Prep School after only one year at PAC.
In Year 12, Peter was a member of our Championship-winning swimming team, Captain of Delbridge House and a College Prefect. Peter continued his education at the University of Adelaide, graduating with a Bachelor of Laws, and later completed a Master of Laws from the University of Geneva, specialising in International Humanitarian and Criminal Law.
He then had 20 years of experience as a Criminal Lawyer in Australia and overseas, mostly as a Barrister in Melbourne. As a Prosecutor, he worked on some high-profile murder cases and later, as a Senior Crown Prosecutor, he prosecuted major gangland cases, such as Tony Mokbel’s drug trafficking crimes.
In the mid-2000s, he went to Sarajevo, where he was an International Prosecutor at the War Crimes Chamber at the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. There he investigated and tried war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed during the Bosnian conflict in the 1990s.
He has served as Chief Judge of the County Court of Victoria since 2015, and as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria since 2016. As Chief Judge of the County Court, he chairs the County Court’s Board of Management and is a member of the Courts Council, the governing body of Court Services Victoria. He also sits on the Boards of the Judicial College of Victoria, and the Judicial Commission of Victoria.
At the time of his appointment as Chief Judge, Peter Kidd explained how he would approach the role, saying “I will respect tradition, however I will readily embrace new and good ideas”. In this, he succinctly articulated the balance that we should all strive to achieve between the old and the new, holding onto our enduring principles, and matters and practices of value, whilst at the same time being prepared to innovate to achieve lasting improvement.
Recently, Peter was the trial and sentencing judge in the high-profile trial of Cardinal George Pell. He regularly appears on radio in Victoria and from time to time on national television, providing public commentary on how the justice system works.
Peter Kidd has reached the highest levels of the legal profession, but we recognise him today not only for his achievements. His career has been highly successful and indeed has been described by one observer as “stellar”. In a speech by the then-President of the Victorian Bar, he referred to Judge Kidd as “A master of facts with a sound understanding of the law and legal principle, whose arguments were always clearly, concisely and articulately put. Above all, Your Honour is regarded as a model of fairness and common sense.” Judge Kidd demonstrated this commitment to fairness when he took elements of the Victorian media to task for sensationalist reporting on young Sudanese men in Melbourne.
His work as trial judge in the Cardinal Pell case last year, attracted favourable comment from all quarters. One investigative journalist who wrote at length about the case said of Judge Kidd “He was a most impressive individual… someone at the peak of their career. We were all just absolutely blown away by him”. Noting that he was supremely fair and hard-working during this case, which attracted the world’s attention, the journalist said, “He is a credit to the justice system.”
Hardworking and fair: these terms reflect the motto that we associate with the Princes Man: “Work hard; be kind.” The common sense that was noted reflects the groundedness, and also suggests the humility, that I believe we have always encouraged amongst our students. Therefore, I think it is fair to say that, in his professional career and achievements, and particularly in the qualities of character that he has demonstrated in pursuing his career, Peter Kidd encapsulates the very best of the Princes Man.