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).
Describe yourself in three words.
Irritable, stern, lucky.
What are you currently reading?
"All that Man Is" by David Szalay.
What's your favourite film?
Richard Linklater's "Boyhood".
Who has been the most influential person in your life?
My mother, who insisted on an education, most of which was had at the public schools in Yass.
When were you happiest?
Getting "The Trials of Justice Murphy" published.
What is your favourite piece of music?
Bob Dylan's "Knocking on Heaven's Door".
Why did you write The Trials of Justice Murphy?
The late Paul Flannery QC was my father-in-law. His involvement as a witness in the first trial created my interest. No such book had been written.
Do you think Lionel "did it" and if so why did he do it?
I'd prefer readers decide for themselves whether he did it, but I will say that he liked to help people.
What is in your refrigerator?
Lamb chops from Yass.
What makes you frightened?
Politicians who listen to shock jocks.
Who would you most like to be with in a lift that has broken down?
In your research about the Murphy trials what did you discover that was new to you?
Much, but of great interest to me was that Malcolm Turnbull had once been such a lefty, going in hard for Murphy when writing for The Bulletin, receiving great praise for his work from Bill Hayden and the late Jim Cairns.
What is the work of which you are most proud?
"The Trials of Justice Murphy."
Do you miss being a judge?
Yes, which is why I still do some work as an acting judge.
What was the most interesting case you tried?
As a barrister, a trade practices case about a man who claimed he had discovered the landing site of Noah's Ark. As a judge, a three months long disciplinary case about a doctor who made Basil Fawlty look well-mannered and competent.
Lamb chops from Yass, mashed potatoes, bombe Alaska, shiraz.
If you were a foodstuff, what would you be?
A Granny Smith apple.
Who do you most admire professionally?
The members of the High Court.
What is your favourite book?
Rohinton Mistry's "A Fine Balance".
What would you change about Australia?
Abolish state governments.
What would your epitaph say?
He died with a full refrigerator.
What comes into your mind when you shut your eyes and think of the word "law"?
I wonder what's in my refrigerator.
[See also speech by David Marr at the launch of The Trials of Justice Murphy.]