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The Trials of Justice Murphy

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The Trials of Justice Murphy

Author Stephen Walmsley
Publication Date Oct 2016




Publisher: LexisNexis Butterworths Australia

October 2016 marks thirty years since the death of former High Court Justice Lionel Murphy, a controversial legal and political figure who despite his many achievements is perhaps best known for being charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The Trials of Justice Murphy takes an in-depth look at the unique story of how Murphy, a High Court judge at that time, was charged with serious criminal offences, found guilty of one and subsequently sentenced to imprisonment. The book examines the first trial in depth, turning then to the appeal and second trial, at which Murphy was acquitted. Facing a further inquiry, Murphy was diagnosed with a terminal illness, but controversially returned to sit as a judge, delivering his last judgement just an hour before he died.

Follow the fascinating story of how it came about that one of Australia’s most senior judges was once accused of putting his freedom, and the reputation of the High Court, in jeopardy to help a friend.

About the Author

Stephen Walmsley is a retired judge. Practising in both Sydney and Canberra, he has had a long and successful legal career, becoming a solicitor in 1970, a barrister in 1981, and taking silk in 1997. In 2001 he was appointed a judge of the District Court of New South Wales, later presiding over many criminal and civil trials. At various times he has served as an acting judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory. He has also written extensively in the field of professional liability.


Chapter 1. Background to the Story
Chapter 2. The Main Crown Witness: Clarrie Briese, the Lutheran
from Trungley
Chapter 3. Morgan Ryan’s Dinner Party: Briese Meets Murphy
Chapter 4. The Age Tapes: Allegations Against a Judge
Chapter 5. A Senate Inquiry
Chapter 6. An Allegation Against Another Judge
Chapter 7. The Pope’s Jockey Saddles Up
Chapter 8. A Second Senate inquiry
Chapter 9. Murphy is Charged
Chapter 10. The Committal Hearing
Chapter 11. A High Court Judge is Committed for Trial
Chapter 12. The Trial: Part 1 — The Beginning
Chapter 13. The Trial: Part 2 — The Crown Case
Chapter 14. The Trial: Part 3 — The Defence Case
Chapter 15. The Trial: Part 4 — Character Witnesses
Chapter 16. The Trial: Part 5 — Addresses and Summing Up
Chapter 17. The Verdicts
Chapter 18. The Public Discusses the Verdicts
Chapter 19. Some Press Observations on the Trial
Chapter 20. The Jurors Respond to Critics
Chapter 21. Jury Disclosures Become Part of the Case
Chapter 22. An Interlude: The Law About Jury Disclosures
Chapter 23. Murphy Becomes a High Court Litigant
Chapter 24. The Sentencing Hearing
Chapter 25. A High Court Judge is Sentenced to Imprisonment
Chapter 26. The Foord Trial
Chapter 27. Murphy’s Appeal
Chapter 28. Murphy is Granted a Retrial
Chapter 29. Murphy’s Second Trial
Chapter 30. The Final Verdict and its Aftermath
Chapter 31. Murphy’s Dock Statement Has Other Repercussions
Chapter 32. A New Inquiry
Chapter 33. Murphy’s Last Judgments and His Death
Appendix 1: Chronology of events
Appendix 2 : ‘Proved misbehaviour’: Section 72 (ii) of the Constitution
Appendix 3: The McClelland ‘perjury’ confessions

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