A Suffolk judge, who as a young man was “determined under no circumstances “ to go into the law, is hanging up his wig and gown after more than 40 years in the legal profession.

Although several family friends and his godfather had followed a career in the law, it was only when former Ipswich Crown Court resident judge David Goodin found himself “incompetently” running an advice centre in South London without any legal training that he decided to go to law school.

Ipswich Star: Judge David Goodin was the Resident Judge at Ipswich Crown Court for several yearsJudge David Goodin was the Resident Judge at Ipswich Crown Court for several years (Image: Archant)

Throughout his career, he has had to contend with a stammer and he says that anyone who saw his “stumbling” efforts during his early appearances before magistrates would have been surprised at his later success.

“When I started out I began doing courtroom work as a drastic means of addressing a mortifying stammer (it worked, more or less, but the stammer still takes me by surprise sometimes), the magistrates and defendants who had to suffer my early stumbling efforts would have been astonished if they'd known that this chap would one day be the Resident Judge at the crown court - as would I have been,” said the judge.

Judge Goodin was brought up in Suffolk and, after qualifying as a solicitor in 1980, he decided to return to the county.

He initially worked for Ennions solicitors, in Newmarket, before moving to Greene and Greene, in Bury St Edmunds, in 1982.

This was followed by a move to Prettys, in Ipswich, in 1985 and then to Saunders, Goodin and Riddleston.

In the mid-1990s, Judge Goodin took advantage of the expansion of solicitors' rights of audience in the higher courts and trained as a solicitor advocate.

He began sitting in the crown court part-time as an Assistant Recorder in 1996 and as a Recorder in 2000.

When he became a Circuit Judge in 2003, he believes he was only the third solicitor to be appointed.

Ipswich Star: Judge David Goodin urged people to remember the 'unsung heroes' of the legal processJudge David Goodin urged people to remember the 'unsung heroes' of the legal process (Image: Archant)

“Of the five Circuit Judges presently assigned to the Crown Court in Ipswich, I'm the only former solicitor and I'm pretty sure the same presently applies in Norwich and Chelmsford,” said the judge.

He was Resident Judge at Ipswich Crown Court from 2009 to 2017.

Paying tribute to the people he has worked with in the crown court over the last 25 years, he said: “I feel strongly that although judges might be the visible personification of justice in the crown court, it's as well to remember that we're kept there by the unsung heroes, the clerks, ushers, listing officers, case-progression officers, custody staff, witness support, probation officers and others who all contribute to making it work.

"When you think about it, putting on a crown court trial with 12 jurors, at least two advocates, often more, with their own support staff (if they're lucky), clerk, usher, defendants, witnesses, custody staff and all the rest of it in the same room at the same time for days or weeks on end is a minor miracle.”

Judge Goodin expressed sympathy with criminal defence barristers, who were being less and less well remunerated as a result of “savage” legal aid cuts but continued to work hard and professionally.

“A godfather of mine, also a judge but an infinitely more distinguished one, wrote to me when I was appointed with some well-chosen words of advice, including: 'Never forget the exigencies of actual practice.'

"I've done my best to remember that every day.”

He said that throughout his career he had also tried to be patient and never gratuitously rude.

Despite his earlier misgivings about going into the law, four decades later he says it has to be one of the most satisfying environments to work in.

“The courts deal with such awful things but the people who deal with these awful things are thoroughly decent people,” he said.

“As for retirement itself, I try hard not to think about it.

"Who's Who gives my interests as family and friends, which is entirely true and will be a good place to start.

"I'll try again to finish Samuel Richardson's Clarissa, which will surely take me a year or two before I fail again."

Simon Spence QC, chairman of the East Anglian Bar Mess, said: “David Goodin was a highly respected and popular judge in Suffolk.

"He was a local solicitor practising in the criminal courts and it is testament to his abilities that he was one of very few solicitors at the time to be appointed a Circuit Judge.

“He served for many years as the Resident Judge in Ipswich and treated all court users alike with impeccable and unfailing courtesy.

"His manner with juries was relaxed and always put them at their ease. Equally, he listened kindly and politely to counsel, although the small shadow of a smile at the corner of his mouth would often indicate how his mind was working!

“He was a formidable presence in the local legal world and we shall all miss him greatly. I speak for all of the legal profession in East Anglia in wishing him a long and happy retirement."