Hon Justice James
Born in Poland in 1946, James Spigelman's family settled in Australia in 1949. He attended Sydney Boys' High School and the University of Sydney, receiving the University Medal in law.
Politically active, he became senior adviser and principal private secretary to Gough Whitlam, the Prime Minister of Australia from 1972 to 75, then Secretary for the Department of Media 1975 to 1976. He was called to the Bar in 1976 and was a member of the Australian Law Reform Commission from 1976 to 1979.
He took silk in 1986, maintaining his strong interest in the arts with several honorary posts including Chairman of the Australian Film Finance Corporation Board from 1990 to 1992, Deputy Chairman of the Art Gallery of New South Wales from 1983 to 1988 and President of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences from 1995 to 1998.
He was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales on 19 May, 1998, a position he held until 31 May 2011. Reviewing Spigelman's 13-year term of office, Sydney Morning Herald columnist, David Marr commented that '... the Chief Justice of NSW... blazed an incomparable trail... every stage of Jim Spigelman's remarkable career has been like that: briefly surprising and then absolutely convincing.' Marr notes that Spigelman's achievements include the renewal of the ranks of the Supreme Court, running a polite and friendly Court, and modernising the Court's business practices and rules. According to Bret Walker SC, Spigelman was renowned for 'showing his decided preference for efficient, better-value-for-money justice.' Legal columnist Richard Ackland noted that 'among the things that have marked the outgoing Chief Justice's tenure are his speeches - great, well-researched pieces of oratory filled with historical flourishes and gentle japes.'
Spigelman became a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 2000, for services to law and to the community through leadership in bringing about change in attitudes to the administration of justice for a more fair and equitable society, and to the support of the visual arts. In 2001, he was awarded a Centenary Medal and in 2004 he received a Doctorate of Laws (honoris causa) from the University of Sydney.
He is the author of Secrecy (1972), Becket and Henry (2004), Statutory Interpretation and Human Rights (2008) and co-author of The Nuclear Barons (1981). A collection of his addresses titled Speeches of a Chief Justice was published in 2008.
James Spigelman travels from New South Wales Australia
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