First Among Equals: Chief Justices of South Australia since Federation

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First Among Equals: Chief Justices of South Australia since Federation

Foreword by the Hon. Justice John Doyle, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia 1995-2012

Barr Smith Press, University of Adelaide, 290 pages
$75.00 GST FREE POST INCLUDED | 2006 | Hardback | 9780863968365

Part history, part biography, First Among Equals takes us on a journey through the history of the State of South Australia as we follow the lives of the five Chief Justices who completed their term in the twentieth century.

The book begins in the genteel South Australia of the last days of Queen Victoria when the Post Office and Town Hall Towers were the tallest structures in the Adelaide skyline.

Its dominating personality then was Chief Justice Sir Samuel Way. He was also Lieutenant-Governor, Chancellor of the only university, and presided over the organizations that governed the Children’s Hospital, Art Gallery, Museum, Library, Zoo and Botanic Gardens.

The twentieth century unfurled and the role of the Chief Justice in South Australia evolved. The State grew more sophisticated and the Courts expanded considerably. It achieved it final form under Len King, Chief Justice from 1978 until 1995, whose legacy is the form it holds now.

About the author

Dr John Emerson has published two legal histories and one judicial biography.

John founded the University of Adelaide Press in 2009 and now provides consulting services to academic institutions and learned societies.

First reaction to a book which is subtitled “Chief Justices of South Australia Since Federation” is to assume a fusty tome intended for the sentimental education of the legal profession. The surprise is that it turns out to be a rather lively history book. Emerson wields a light pen. His tight biographies ripple with a sense of the character as well as the life and times of his subjects. Legal careers and political events flow through as absorbing narrative rather than leaden fact. The five chief justices … emerge not only as powerful figures in South Australian history but also as interesting people with human foibles.

Samantha Harris

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