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Sergeant Adrian Cheyne was admitted to the bar during a traditional ceremony - the first in the High Court at Dunedin since it was reopened following a $20million structural revamp.
Sgt Cheyne left the University of Otago in 2004 after first studying science and physiology and then law.
With the encouragement of colleagues he completed his professional legal studies last year and yesterday he was one of four ``newly minted members of the legal profession'' admitted by Justice Cameron Mander.
It was ``a milestone moment you are entitled to savour with unashamed sentiment and pride,'' the judge said.
After a decade as a police officer - three years of which have been spent prosecuting in the District Court - Sgt Cheyne said there was no let-up in workload during the day before he hit the books at night.
In his speech in court, the officer had a cheeky dig at police colleagues.
One had been on a three-month family holiday, another was off for an extended period with a ``bung leg'' and a third retired while he was studying, Sgt Cheyne said.
His study of law had made him a better police officer, he told the court, and allowed him to appreciate the role defence counsel played.
``People do bad things. It doesn't necessarily make them bad people,'' Sgt Cheyne said.
Justice Mander said those before him should be proud of their achievements but his words of congratulations came with a warning.
``When a lawyer falls from grace, he or she does so from a great height,'' he said.
The judge, reluctant to ``lecture'', said yesterday's proceedings were particularly auspicious given the ornate surroundings.
``A court of law is a place like no other . . . a place where that thing we call justice is administered and delivered. It's where, if you like, the rubber meets the road,'' he said.
Others admitted to the bar yesterday were: Alofa Latafale Auva'a, David Morgan and Kara Rumble.