The state's longest-serving magistrate may be known among legal circles as 'Fierce Pearce', but sitting in his chambers, the Wollongong man is warm and soft-spoken as he reflects on his fulfilling career.
Darryl Pearce is the only magistrate to have sat in every local court in New South Wales, clocking up hundreds of thousands of kilometres on the road.
"I've crisscrossed the state either by plane or motor vehicle ... that's been a wonderful privilege quite frankly, to stay in a town for weeks at a time," Mr Pearce said.
"You get to know the people and their cultures. It's just so wonderful to lie in bed of a night and think of all the cases that you've heard."
Mr Pearce retired when he was 72 in 2017 however was grateful to return as an acting magistrate. On Tuesday, he will hang up the robes for good after 43 years on the bench, a day shy of his 78th birthday.
"This is a very unique position to hold. Now that it's coming to an end, I can sit back and say 'well, I've done what I could'," he said.
Mr Pearce has weighed in on well over 400,000 criminal matters. He spent four years at Griffith Local Court during the 1980s, which included an inquest and special inquiry into the still unsolved death of anti-drugs campaigner Donald Mackay.
From petty crimes to murders, and harrowing inquests - he's seen it all. Mr Pearce admitted decision-making was at times a "heavy burden" for judicial officers to carry.
"It's a very lonely job, you come back to your room and that's it," he said.
"There's no other job that I know that you sit there on your own, make the decision and everyone can look and check and read it.
"I see it as very serious, we're not there to make people walk out laughing. So you're better off to remain fairly mute ... I've been accused of being 'Fierce Pearce'.
"Sometimes I might have been too much on the side of deterrence ... and perhaps been too hard."
But off the bench, Mr Pearce says he isn't fierce at all. He's a proud grandfather, a keen golfer, and the president of the Wollongong Lions Club.
"I'm totally different on the bench," he said.
Mr Pearce was born in Glen Innes, attending boarding school in Lismore before starting his career as a clerk at Liverpool in February 1963.
He won a public service scholarship to study law through Sydney University and while studying, spent time as clerk and registrar at Parramatta and Wollongong courts and the Downing Centre.
Mr Pearce was just 35 when appointed as magistrate in 1980. Seven years later, he returned to Wollongong, where he would stay until 1993.
He then became the state's relieving magistrate and so began his two decades of travelling far and wide, from bench to bench.
Mr Pearce plans to spend his retirement on the golf course, in Queensland visiting grandchildren, and at home with his wife Audette, children Brendan and Stuart (also lawyers) and Sue (a teacher).
A special morning tea will be held at the courthouse to celebrate his career.