Julian McMahon (barrister)

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Julian McMahon
Julian P McMahon

Julian P McMahon AC is a Melbourne barrister, who has been the lawyer for Van Tuong Nguyen[1][2] and members of the Bali Nine.[3][4] He currently serves as the president of the Capital Punishment Justice Project (formerly Reprieve Australia), an organisation which aims to provide legal representation and humanitarian assistance to those at risk of execution.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

McMahon began studies at the University of Melbourne in 1986, where he was a resident at Trinity College.[6] McMahon was a member of the college debating club known as the Dialectic Society. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in 1987, and a Bachelor of Laws in 1990. He later obtained a Master of Laws degree from Monash University in 1998.[7]


McMahon was admitted to practice as a solicitor in 1992, and worked for Sly and Weigall and then the Office of Public Prosecutions. He was admitted to the Victorian Bar in 1998, and specialises in criminal and human rights law.[8] He describes his chambers as having a history of "looking after people who no-one else really wants to defend".[9]

McMahon opposes the use of the death penalty internationally, and challenged Australian citizen Van Nguyen's execution by Singapore in 2005, along with Lex Lasry QC.[10][11]

McMahon has represented the Australian citizens Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, convicted of drug trafficking in Bali, Indonesia.[12] McMahon, along with a team of lawyers including Todung Mulya Lubis have helped their clients prepare clemency requests, and has launched judicial reviews in an attempt to overturn their death sentences.[13] McMahon visited the pair in Nusakambangan Island, requesting family access.[14] In a comment to SBS Dateline, McMahon stated "they help Indonesians in prison become better people, the idea of killing two young men who do that day in and day out is just ridiculous.”[15]


McMahon was named Victorian Australian of the Year in 2016 for his work as a barrister, human rights advocate and fierce opponent of the death penalty.[16]

In the 2017 Queen's Birthday Honours, McMahon was made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), Australia's highest civilian honour.[17]


  1. ^ "Singapore to abolish death penalty for some drug couriers". PM. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 11 December 2012.
  2. ^ "Saving citizen Nguyen". The Age. 24 October 2005.
  3. ^ "Second judicial review application denied for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran". AM. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 5 February 2015.
  4. ^ "The Drum talks with Bali 9 lawyer, Julian McMahon". The Drum. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 3 February 2015.
  5. ^ "About Us". Capital Punishment Justice Project. Capital Punishment Justice Project. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  6. ^ "Salvete 1986", The Fleur-de-Lys, 1986, p. 54.
  7. ^ "Debating Report", The Fleur-de-Lys, Nov. 1987, p. 16.
  8. ^ "Barrister Profile - Julian P McMahon". Victorian Bar. Archived from the original on 9 February 2015.
  9. ^ ""Irish" barristers Christmas celebrations". 7.30 Report. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 19 December 2001.
  10. ^ "Nguyen lawyer blasts Singapore". The Age. 30 November 2005.
  11. ^ Daniel Hoare (July 2007). "AUSTRALIAN EXCEPTIONALISM - The Bali Nine and the future of the death penalty". The Monthly. The two Melbourne barristers heading the action are Julian McMahon and Lex Lasry, who worked on the Van Nguyen case in Singapore. They are, as in the Nguyen case, acting pro bono, with their out-of-pocket expenses paid by the Australian government.
  12. ^ "Bali Nine lawyer confirms Chan and Sukumaran in next group to be executed". 7.30. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2 February 2015.
  13. ^ "Bali Nine: Death row blow for Andrew Chan as his clemency is rejected by the president". news.com.au. 22 January 2015.
  14. ^ "Bali Nine: Lawyers for Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran welcome Indonesia's delay to executions". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 7 March 2015.
  15. ^ "The Painter and The Pastor: Is rehabilitation enough to halt their executions?". Dateline. Special Broadcasting Service. 17 February 2015.
  16. ^ "Australian of the Year Awards". Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  17. ^ Doherty, Ben (11 June 2017). "Julian McMahon and Paris Aristotle honoured for defence of human rights". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 June 2017.

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