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Library offers glimpse of life as a Justice

Supreme Court Library Heritage Collection Co-ordinator Helen Sims says the latest display shows the humanity of judges. Photos: Geoff McLeod

Regalia and rare books which offer fascinating insights into the lives of two Queensland judges are on display at the Supreme Court Library of Queensland.

Alfred Lutwyche and Harry Gibbs: daily life in the Queensland legal system, 100 years apart compares items from 1860-80 and 1960-80 to show how the two men shared characteristics that allowed them to make an extraordinary impact on justice in the state.

Lutwyche was the first judge appointed to the newly established Supreme Court in 1859. Gibbs was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1961, and the High Court in 1970.

The exhibition includes their robes, wigs and jabots, as well as their bench books and legal honours. Highlights include Lutwyche’s tricorn hat and 1878 commission of appointment from Queen Victoria, and Gibbs’ 1970 knighthood medal.

Legal Heritage Collection Co-ordinator Helen Sims said the display of the pair’s clothing, record-keeping books and everyday items aimed to reflect their warmth and humanity.

“We made a deliberate decision not to have a QC robe to move away from black, so the display could be more vibrant, more alive and less staid,” Helen said.

The display is this year’s first in a four-month rotation. Topics for past legal heritage displays have included legal ceremonies, the Supreme Court fire of 1968, frontier firms and pioneering practitioners.

The library is also presenting Criminal law: Then, now, tomorrow, an exhibition aimed at a younger audience.

The exhibition chronicles the history of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) to reflect changes in technology, and in social, political and economic values.

Supreme Court Library Community Education Co-ordinator Kirsten Murray at the Criminal Law:  Then, now, tomorrow exhibition.

Community Education Co-ordinator Kirsten Murray said the exhibition aimed to show the Code was a “living, breathing document”, and had attracted about 1000 students and community members since it opened a year ago.

“What we’ve found is that what students are really concerned about, in global terms, is racism, gender equality and the impact of technology on them, whether that’s civil surveillance, or AI (Artificial Intelligence), or other things that involve metadata and privacy,” Kirsten said

The Supreme Court Library is open from 8.30am to 4.30pm weekdays at the Queens Elizabeth II Courts of Law building. Visit the website for details.

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