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Manning Index of South Australian History
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    South Australia - Crime, Law and Punishment

    Law

    Judges and Magistrates

    The Law Courts, Crime and Punishment

    (Taken from Geoffrey H. Manning's A Colonial Experience)

    Early Days of the Courts

    One of the city's landmarks, the Supreme Court building at the corner of Gouger and King William Streets cost more than 18,000 to erect and was completed in the late 1860s. Prior to that time it conducted its business in the Police Court building and its work had been done in private residences. Tracing the history of the court houses of Adelaide is most difficult, because in the span of years since the colony was founded there have been numerous changes, and at times court houses were exchanged by different courts.

    Soon after South Australia came into being in 1836 the business of the Supreme Court began and in 1839 there are records of it being held in the residence of Mr G.M. Stephen in Halifax Street. Later, activities were in the dwelling of Judge (later Sir Charles) Cooper at the south-eastern corner of Whitmore Square.

    In August 1847 the first suggestion to build an imposing Supreme Court was heralded. The need was evidently urgent for, by 17 September 1847, a contract was signed by Mr R.G. Bowen to build what is now the Adelaide Police Court. He had much difficulty in his search for large blocks of stone and, at one stage, he proposed to substitute bricks covered with stucco, but he was held to his contract and in 1848 the new building became one of the sights of the city.

    It was in that year also that a contract was signed for the erection of the General Post Office and a police courthouse opposite the government office in King William Street. Thus, the present Police Court housed the Supreme Court and the police business was done in a building just north of the post office. Local and insolvency cases were heard in another building adjoining the old police courthouse.

    This state of affairs existed for many years and it was not until 1865 that the need for a new Local and Insolvent Court offices was heeded and the following year a move was made to build a fine structure at the corner of Gouger and King William Streets.

    The building, known as the New Courts, had its origin in 1866 when the colonial exchequer was flush of funds and the great anxiety was to reduce bank balances. A generous legislature, led on by a liberal government, pledged itself to an expenditure which, in hindsight, was far beyond the requirements of the case. Late in 1866 excavations for the foundations began and, in January 1867, Messrs Brown and Thompson entered upon their contract for the superstructure. At this time one of the periodic agitations against stucco was in progress and, the discovery having been made that a freestone front would only involve an additional outlay of 2,500, the builders were authorised to add that to their tender, which was thus brought up to 13,540.

    Before the middle of 1868 the walls had been topped but, ere the roof had been completed, in February 1868 judges called attention to the inadequacy of the accommodation of the Supreme Court and suggested that the new building being erected should be utilised for the business of the Supreme Court. This suggestion was agreed to, but the transfer of the Supreme Court involved many additions and not less than 6,684 was spent that year, bringing the aggregate outlay on the building to more than 18,000. Whilst the negotiations with the Supreme Court judges were pending the suites of rooms on the ground and upper floor were anticipatively appropriated by officers in different legal departments. But either their Honours were too exacting, or it was found utterly impossible to adapt the building to Supreme Court purposes for, after no end of reports, requisitions and correspondence it was decided that the judges should retain their old quarters.

    Upon the completion of the New Courts building it was said: 'At length the grouping of the Law Courts, so long an object of desire, has been accomplished. The supreme tribunal no longer holds undisputed authority on the southern side of Victoria Square, for within a stone's throw of the hall where their Honours the Judges have been wont for years past to administer justice, equity and law, subordinate jurisdictions will in the future make orders, pass sentences and interpret Statutes.

    'Suitors need no longer to be at a loss to know where to bend their steps when prompted to appeal to judicial authority for the righting of their wrongs. Having passed through the square them may turn left and be admitted to the august presence of Judges Gwynne and Wearing; they may turn to the right and take their choice between Stipendiary Magistrate Downer, Police Magistrate Beddome and Insolvency Commissioner Downer. The Supreme Court will for the future rest almost under the shadow of the new and more imposing edifices within which the inferior business is transacted.'

    Finally, in a lighter vein, I record a gentle homily in respect of the legal profession as published in 1885:

    General Notes

    "Some Early Judges and Lawyers" is in the Register,
    20 May 1919, page 3i,
    "Some Former Judges" on
    15 September 1919, page 6f.

    An annual meeting of the bench of magistrates is in the Observer,
    17 March 1849, page 2e.

    "Colonial Judges" is in the Adelaide Times,
    20 August 1849, page 2g.

    "Judges' Salaries" is in the Register,
    27 December 1855, pages 2c-3d.

    "Country Magistrates" is in the Register,
    9 August 1856, page 2c.
    "Administration of Justice in the Country" is in the Register,
    12 December 1857, page 2d.

    An editorial headed "Country Magistrates" is in the Register,
    9 March 1859, page 2f:

    "Mr Justice Boothby Again" is in the Register,
    16 September 1857, page 2b,
    23 February 1858, page 2e.
    "Mr Justice Boothby" on,
    29 June 1861, page 2f,
    15, 17 and 27 July 1861, pages 2e, 2d and 3b,
    1 August 1861, page 2c,
    Observer,
    29 June 1861, page 6f; also see
    13 and 20 July 1861, pages 1a (supp.) and 6a-1g (supp.),
    10 August 1861, page 6a,
    7 September 1861, page 6a,
    Register,
    15 December 1862, page 2e,
    19 October 1864, page 2d,
    3 June 1865, page 2b,
    16, 23, 28 and 30 May 1866, pages 2c, 2e, 2e and 2e,
    4, 27 and 28 June 1866, pages 2e, 2a and 2c,
    21 and 28 December 1866, pages 2b and 3b,
    31 January 1867, page 2f,
    27 march 1867, page 2c,
    15 April 1867, page 2c,
    12, 17 and 25 June 1867, pages 2c, 2b and 2c,
    22 June 1868, page 2d (obit.).
    "Colonial Judges" is in the Observer,
    14 June 1862, page 5g.

    "Magistracy of South Australia" is in the Chronicle,
    1 and 8 October 1864, pages 5b and 1e (supp.).

    On 29 July 1865, page 2a the Editor of the Advertiser delivered a censorious blast against certain judges:

    "Mr Charles Lowe and the Judicial Crisis" is in the Chronicle,
    5 August 1865, page 4c.

    "Removal of Judges" is in the Register,
    18 May 1866, page 2d,
    Observer,
    2 and 30 June 1866, pages 6b and 4f (supp.),
    Register,
    21 December 1866, page 2b,
    13 May 1867, page 2c,
    9 July 1867, page 2g,
    "The Supreme Court" in the Advertiser,
    21 and 29 May 1866, pages 2g and 3a.
    "New Supreme Court Buildings" is in the Register,
    21 May 1914, page 7a.

    "What is a Judge?" is in the Express,
    15 June 1866, page 2b,
    "Judge Gwynne and the Press" on
    30 November 1866, page 2b.

    "Judges in Parliament" is in the Register,
    26 June 1866, page 2c,
    31 August 1866, page 2d.

    "Stipendiary Magistrates" is in the Express,
    14 November 1868, page 2b.

    "The Chief Justice Again Misrepresented by the Press' is in the Observer,
    31 July 1869, page 12d.

    "Judges and Editors" is in the Register,
    30 March 1870, page 4f.

    "The Judges" is in the Express,
    20 August 1870, pages 2c-3c,
    9 November 1870, page 2b.

    "The Bench and the Government" is in the Chronicle,
    10 September 1870, page 12d,
    "Independence of Judges" is in the Observer,
    19 November 1870, page 13f,
    "Promotions to the Bench" on
    30 May 1874, page 4b.

    "Mr H.G. Kelly and the Government" is in the Express,
    29 September 1871, page 3c.

    "Inquests and Coroners" is in the Observer,
    1 May 1875, page 3a.

    "Our Judges" is in The Lantern,
    12 August 1876, page 8a.

    "The Gratuity to the Family of the Late Chief Justice" is in the Observer,
    28 October 1876, page 13f.

    An obituary of Mr B.F. Laurie, magistrate, is in the Observer,
    9 December 1876, page 12a.

    "The Judges' Pension Bill" is in the Observer,
    16 June 1877, page 2g,
    Chronicle,
    9 June 1877, page 4c; also see
    Express,
    1 October 1880, page 3d.

    "Recent Appointments to the Magistracy" is in the Observer,
    16 June 1877, page 11b,
    "Magistrates and the Laws" on
    21 December 1878, page 10c.

    A poem entitled "Our Three Judges" is in The Lantern,
    9 March 1878 (supplement).

    "Supreme Court Judges" is in the Chronicle,
    25 March 1882, page 5a.

    "The Bench and the Bar" is in the Register,
    26 August 1880, page 4f.

    "Retiring Allowances and Judges" is in the Register,
    30 September 1880, page 4d,
    6 and 22 October 1880, pages 4e and 5a,
    22 February 1881, page 7a,
    21 October 1882, pages 4f-5b.

    Biographical details of a "new judge", R.B. Andrews, are in the Register,
    10 March 1881, page 5a.

    A presentation to G.W. Hawkes, SM, is reported in the Observer,
    1 October 1881, page 32e.

    Biographical details of Justice W.H. Bundey are in the Observer,
    7 January 1888, page 33b,
    19 January 1895, page 41a,
    of George Donaldson, SM, in the Register,
    22 November 1888, page 5a.

    A portrait of Samuel Beddome and biographical information are in Frearson's Weekly,
    20 January 1883, pages 792 and supplement.
    Information on Messrs Samuel Beddome and Thomas K. Pater, Special Magistrates, is in the Advertiser,
    31 July 1890, page 5d; also see
    20, 21 and 22 October 1890, pages 5g, 3d and 5g and Observer,
    2 August 1890, pages 31c-33b.
    A portrait of Mr Pater is in Frearson's Weekly,
    22 March 1884, page 84 and
    Register, 15 October 1884, page 5f,
    Observer,
    19 December 1891, page 29b and
    an obituary is in the Register,
    12 and 19 August 1892, pages 4h and 6b,
    Mr Beddome's on
    9 April 1898, page 30a.

    A poem titled "The Judge" is in The Lantern
    16 April 1887, page 19.

    Biographical details of J.G. Russell, SM, are in the Observer,
    9 May 1891, page 33d; also see
    24 April 1897, page 16e.

    Biographical details of Justice C.J. Dashwood are in the Observer,
    9 April 1892, page 33b.

    "The New Police Magistrates" is in the Observer,
    27 August 1892, page 29d.

    "Judges' Expenses on Circuit" is in the Register,
    9 August 1893, pages 4f-6c.

    Biographical details of James Gordon, SM, are in the Observer,
    8 September 1894, page 16a, (also see
    Register,
    18 and 19 March 1912, pages 7c and 7a - obit.)
    of J.T. Keats on
    11 September 1897, page 16e,
    of Justice C.J. Dashwood on
    8 July 1899, page 16a.

    "Burglars and Lenient Sentences" is in the Register,
    15 April 1896, page 4e,
    "Prisoners and Sentences" in the Advertiser,
    17 December 1897, page 6f.

    "Her Majesty's Judges" is in the Register,
    27 June 1898, page 4d.

    The inaugural meeting of a justices' association is reported in the Express,
    25 May 1899, page 3f.

    "The Bench and the Public" is in the Register,
    30 August 1899, page 4d.

    Information on F.J. Gillen, SM, is in the Observer,
    29 June 1901, page 16d.

    "The Evidence of Guilt" is in the Register, 19 October 1900, page 4d:

    "Clergymen as Magistrates" is discussed in the Advertiser,
    18 November 1902, page 4b.

    Information on W.H. Bundey is in the Express,
    1 and 2 July 1884, pages
    Register,
    3 July 1884, page 2c (supp.).
    "Mr Justice Bundey - From Office Boy to Judge" is in the Advertiser,
    23 November 1903, page 5h; also see
    24 November 1903, page 5d,
    Weekly Herald,
    17 August 1901, page 3,
    31 October 1903, page 5a.
    Register,
    24 November 1903, page 5c.
    An obituary of Sir Henry Bundey is in the Advertiser,
    7 December 1909, page 9d.

    Biographical details of Justice Gordon are in the Register,
    2 December 1903, page 5a,
    Observer,
    5 December 1903, page 35a.

    The first sitting of the Commonwealth High Court in Adelaide is reported in the Observer,
    28 November 1903, page 23.

    Biographical details of Justice Herbert are in the Observer,
    4 February 1905, page 24a,
    of Justice Alexander Buchanan on
    14 October 1911, page 25a,
    Register,
    24 December 1920, page 8d.

    Biographical details of F.R. Burton, Clerk of the Local Court, are in the Register,
    8 November 1909, page 5a.
    Also see Place Names - Glanville.

    "The Judges" is in the Register,
    25 May 1911, page 4c.

    "The Supreme Court - A Long Line of Judges" is in the Advertiser,
    14 October 1911, page 7.

    Biographical details of Justice J.R. Murray are in the Register,
    30 September 1911, page 15d,
    Express,
    2 April 1912, page 1e.

    "The Judges" is in the Register,
    1 May 1912, page 6c,
    Observer,
    4 May 1912, page 33c,
    "Supreme Court Bench" on
    22 January 1916, pages 31c-36.
    Register,
    20 January 1916, pages 4b-5a.

    "Effects of Leniency" is in the Register,
    8 July 1913, page 9d.

    An obituary of A.A. McBean, Usher of the Supreme Court, is in the Register,
    19 December 1913, page 8b.

    "The Judiciary" is in the Register,
    21 May 1914, page 7a.

    A photographs of judges and their associates and members of the legal profession are in The Critic,
    30 December 1914, page 4,
    10 March 1915, page 14,
    7 and 21 April 1915, pages 12 and 14,
    12 May 1915, page 16,
    2 June 1915, page 14.

    Biographical details of Mr S.J. Mitchell, SM, are in the Express,
    14 September 1916, page 1c;
    an obituary of Judge Mitchell is in the Register,
    4 October 1926, page 11c, (also see
    Register,
    15 September 1916, page 4g).

    Biographical details of Judge T.S. Poole are in the Express,
    25 September 1919, page 1d;
    Express,
    25 September 1919, page 1d; an obituary is in the Register,
    7 May 1927, page 28c.

    "Old Time Judges - Great Men of Bench and Bar" is in The Mail,
    5 March 1921, page 3d.

    Mr Justice Buchanan's retirement is reported in the Observer,
    1 January 1921, page 29d.

    The reminiscences of T.R. Bright, Stipendiary Magistrate, are in the Observer,
    8 July 1922, page 27.

    "A Giant Judge - Mr Webb's Relationship With Famous Men" is in The Mail,
    15 July 1922, page 2d.

    "A Judge and Ruffians" is in the Register,
    17 November 1922, pages 6e-7a.

    Biographical details of Duncan Fraser, SM, are in the Observer,
    14 June 1924, page 36c,
    of Justice Herbert on
    10 March 1928, page 34c.

    "Judges I Have Known" is in the Register,
    9 and 22 September 1925, pages 15b and 13g.

    An obituary of Mr J.T. Keats, SM, is in the Express,
    13 September 1917, page 2b.

    Information on Mr E.M. Sabine, special magistrate, is in The News,
    9 August 1928, page 18b.

    Biographical details and an obituary of Justice S.J. Mitchell are in the Register,
    4 October 1926, pages 10e-11c.

    "What Should a Judge Know?" is in the Advertiser,
    30 September 1935, page 8d.

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