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The Legal Elite: Rich vein of talent in criminal law

CRIMINAL law runs through the veins of Robert Mazza, who has followed in the footsteps of his late father.

Mr Mazza was articled with his father in the early 1980s and the two worked together for two decades, until Jim Mazza passed away in 1999.

Now aged 44, Robert Mazza expects criminal law will be a life-long vocation.

He dabbled in family law early in his career but for the past six years has worked almost exclusively in criminal law.

As well as his court work, Mr Mazza is active in a range of professional and educational roles.

As a defence lawyer, Mr Mazza is exposed to people and places the rest of us just read about.

He recently represented alleged terrorist Jack Roche, who was charged with two counts of conspiring with others to blow up the Israeli embassy in Canberra and the Israeli consulate in Sydney,

Another client was Gypsy Jokers bikie Sidney John Reid, who confessed to the car-bomb murders of former CIB boss Don Hancock and friend Lou Lewis.

Mr Mazza also represented Kelly Fuller, who was convicted of the 1998 stabbing murder of a teenage love rival in Bicton.

Other prominent clients have included surgeon Daryl Stephens, who was cleared of murder charges over the death of cancer victim Freeda Hayes in 2000, and former Premier Carmen Lawrence, who was acquitted of charges of lying to the 1995 Marks Royal Commission

As well as regular appearances in the supreme and district courts, Mr Mazza has appeared as counsel before a number of disciplinary tribunals, including the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal, the Dental Board and the Racing Appeals Tribunal.

He has also appeared as counsel at the National Crime Authority, the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Police Royal Commission.

As a veteran hockey player, Mr Mazza even manages to mix business and pleasure by acting as occasional chair of the WA Hockey Association disciplinary tribunal.

Mr Mazza has a special interest in the interaction of the legal system with people with intellectual disabilities.

He has acted for people with an intellectual disability who have been charged with a criminal offence, as well as prosecuting cases where the complainants have an intellectual disability.

He served on a committee chaired by the Honourable Justice Nicholson that produced two documents to help court staff and judicial officers deal with people with an intellectual disability.

Last June, Mr Mazza presented a conference paper on issues that may arise when lawyers deal with people with intellectual disabilities.

He has served on several professional committees, including the Law Society’s criminal law and legal aid committees, and is currently a member of the reference group supporting the child witness service.

In 1996, Mr Mazza was a recipient of the Law Society’s certificate of appreciation of work on legal aid.

He also finds time to serve as a member of the advisory board to the law school at the University of Notre Dame.

Mr Mazza was admitted to practice as a barrister and solicitor in the Supreme Court of Western Australia in 1981.

He was made a partner of Mazza McCallum & Robinson in 1984 and stayed with that firm until it was dissolved in 1997.

Mr Mazza and his father established their own criminal law practice in that year, and would have surprised nobody when they chose the name Mazza & Mazza.

Other partners of the old firm set up their own commercial law practice, McCallum Donovan Sweeney.

Since his father passed away, Mr Mazza has practised as a sole practitioner but has retained the name of Mazza & Mazza.

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