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Anzac ceremonial sitting at Supreme Court

24 April 2015

A Supreme Court ceremonial sitting to commemorate the centenary of the Gallipoli landings and Anzac Day has been attended by more than 140 dignitaries, judges, members of Victoria’s legal community and representatives of the armed forces.

The ceremony, in Banco Court on 24 April 2015, was held to honour the contribution of Victoria’s legal profession during World War One.

About 300 Victorian barristers, solicitors and law students volunteered for service during the Great War from a profession that only consisted of about 800 men.

Some became officers in the British Army and those who served with the Australian Army went in rank from privates to generals. They were drivers, pay clerks and staff officers. Some worked in the postal corps, and some as nurses. A significant number were in the artillery and machine gunners. A few were in the flying corps, but the overwhelming majority were with the infantry battalions.

Among them were six justices of the Supreme Court who served on the front line: Justices Sir Norman O’Bryan, Charles Duffy, Russell Martin, Sir Arthur Dean, Wilfred Fullagar (who later became a High Court judge) and Chief Justice Sir Edmund Herring.

Chief Justice Warren told the commemorative service that World War One had touched each and every member of the Victorian community, and the legal profession was no exception.

‘Many lives and promising legal careers were lost in World War One. No-one was immune from the anxiety and grief for loved ones and colleagues, even judges,’ she said.

Victorian Bar President Jim Peters QC spoke about the 159 members of the legal profession named on the World War One memorial board hanging proudly in the main entrance to the Supreme Court on William Street.

He also paid tribute to those whose names do not appear on the board because they had not been admitted to practice when they went off to war.

Chief Justice Marilyn Warren and Court of Appeal President Chris Maxwell were joined on the Bench by Justices Kim Hargrave, Jack Forrest and Lex Lasry.

Sitting alongside them was VCAT President Justice Greg Garde, who is a retired Major General, the Navy’s Deputy Judge Advocate General, Justice Jack Rush, and Associate Justice Mark Derham, the grandson of General Sir Brudenell White who supervised the evacuation of troops from Gallipoli.

Those present included High Court of Australia Justice Kenneth Hayne, Victoria Director of Public Prosecution John Champion, several Victorian judges and magistrates, the Consul General of Turkey, former and serving members of the armed services and former State Premier Ted Baillieu, Chair of the Victorian Anzac Centenary Committee.

‘War is a terrible event,’ Chief Justice Warren said. ‘It inflicts pain and suffering at all levels of society. We acknowledge the bravery, tenacity, resilience and sacrifice of all who landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.

‘While we abhor war and endeavour to avoid it, Victorian and Australian soldiers and citizens when called upon have always inspired respect in times of war, none more so than the judges and lawyers of this State.

‘With Gallipoli, when soldiers sailed away they thought they were on an adventure. Yet even so, they wanted to challenge an enemy they believed confronted and threatened Victorian society and life as they knew it. In their own way they were defending their democracy underpinned by the rule of law.

‘The ultimate protectors of the rule of law are the judges and the lawyers. The commemoration of the Gallipoli landings and Anzac traditions also mark the commitment of those who fought to protect the rule of law. We acknowledge them. We remember them. We will never forget them.’

Read Chief Justice Marilyn Warren's full speech, 'The Supreme Court in World War One'

Read the address by James Peters QC, President of the Victorian Bar Council (External link)

Read the address by Katie Miller, President of the Law Institute of Victoria (External link)

Explore the Supreme Court's 'Stories from the memorial board' project

View the Anzac ceremonial sitting webcast (External link)

More Supreme Court news

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