Article from Justinian –Australia’s Law Journal.

Stephen Walmsley SC, former judge and author of The Trials of Justice Murphy is on Justinian's couch ... A vexed chapter in the High Court's history ... The man from Yass rakes through the historical ashes ... The Paul Flannery connection ... Issues with refrigeration 

Stephen Walmsley was born in 1946. He attended Yass Primary Schoool and later Canberra Grammar. His LLB came from the ANU in 1968 and he did articles at Allen, Allen & Hemsley. For a time he was a solicitor at the mighty law shop. He returned to Canberra in 1971 and joined Macphillamy, Cummins & Gibson, followed by nearly 20 years at the Canberra and Sydney bars. He took silk in 1997 and four years later was appointed to the NSW District Court. 

He has been an acting judge of the NSW and ACT Supreme Courts. 

He retired in 2013. Apart from The Trials of Justice Murphy he is the joint author of Professional Liability in Australia (Thomson Reuters, 2016, 3rd. ed). 

There was a top-drawer launch at barristers’ chambers on the 60th floor of a Harry Seidler tower for Stephen Walmsley’s book The Trials of Justice Murphy

Walmsley is a former judge and the son-in-law of another former judge, Paul Flannery, whose allegations against Murphy were one of the reasons the High Court judge was charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice. 

The charges related to Murphy allegedly seeking to improperly influence Flannery and then chief magistrate Clarrie Briese in criminal proceedings against his little mate, solicitor Morgan Ryan. The High Court judge went through two senate inquiries, a trial, a conviction, an appeal, a trip to the High Court, another trial, an acquittal and a parliamentary commission of inquiry, which ceased business after Murphy became terminally ill. 

Among the launch crowd were Ian Barker, QC, Murphy’s barrister at his second trial, Justice Anna Katzmann of the Federal Court, journalist Kate McClymont, former DPPs Nicholas Cowdery and Ian Temby – who had brought the charges – author Anna Funder, various Flanneries, and assorted members of the bar ’n’ grill. 

Journalist and biographer David Marr sent the book down the slipway of sales success with a speech that left everyone slack-jawed. According to Marr, Murphy’s problem was that he took Sydney’s ways to Canberra. 

“Sydney is a place where one judge asks another judge to meet at City Tatts to deliver a message that the premier wants a favour for a mate who is facing trial. That is still the city we live in.” 

Hushed silence, which only got darker as Marr wrapped up by saying: “Stephen, congratulations. In the 30 years since these unhappy trials, we’ve made up our minds about Lionel. He was a crook. And the truth your book points to in the most subtle way is that juries acquit, but history doesn’t.” 



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