MEMBERS of Newcastle's legal community gathered in Courtroom 4 for a special sitting after His Honour Judge Ralph Coolahan died early this morning.
Judge Margaret Sidis, who swore Judge Coolahan in in 1999, said Judge Coolahan would be remembered as a man of intellect and compassion.
"Today Newcastle suffers a very great loss," Judge Sidis said.
She was joined on the bench in Court 4, Judge Coolahan's court, by two visiting judges and three magistrates.
Courthouse staff, lawyers, Sheriff's officers and others attended the special sitting.
Chief judge pays tribute
The Chief Judge of the NSW District Court has paid tribute to Newcastle District Court Judge Ralph Coolahan.
Justice Reg Blanch said Judge Coolahan was a thoughtful and compassionate judge who agonised over sentencing.
He also said Judge Coolahan will be remembered as an agitator and outspoken defender of the legal professions and court resources within the local community.