Skip Navigation
THE FEDERATION PRESS
 
 
Password
Online Bookstore Book Supplements Newsletter Subscription For Academics For Bookshops For Authors About Us JournalsHolt Prize
     
 
A History of Criminal Law in New South Wales - Volume 2

A History of Criminal Law in New South Wales - Volume 2

The New State, 1901-1955

By G D Woods

CONTENTSREVIEWS

New South Wales was from its origins uniquely connected with the criminal law. The second volume of A History of Criminal Law in New South Wales begins where the first volume left off in 1901 when the colony became a state.

This is not simply a volume of technicalities and chronologies. Woods relates themes such as criminal punishment, the two World Wars, and the gradualism of change to the characters who inhabit the world of criminal practice, the courts and the gaols. John Norton and Paddy Crick are on the loose again for the first time since 1958, when Cyril Pearl immortalised them in Wild Men of Sydney. Riveting figures haunt these pages, such as Woolcott Forbes, the famous corporate fraudster of the 1930s and 1940s known in the press as “The Bullfighter”; a policeman with the improbable name of Mendelssohn Bartholdy Miller; and Major Charles Cousens, the plum-voiced prisoner-of-war and radio who faced charges of treason when he was returned to Australia at war’s end.

These and dozens of other characters (including notable judges, magistrates and practitioners) populate this continuation of the history of criminal law in New South Wales up to the mid-20th century when the death penalty was effectively abolished. Woods draws on his wide experience of the criminal law as an academic, law reformer, barrister and judge to describe the development of the law in its social, economic and political contexts. A History of Criminal Law in New South Wales is an essential and fascinating read for legal practitioners and historians.

**Listen to interview: Greg Woods QC on ABC Radio National, A History of Criminal Law in NSW on Late Night Live with Phillip Adams_ 12th August 2019. Greg discusses fortune telling, sedition, homosexuality - they may not get a lot of prosecutions these days but historically they've been taken very seriously. Find out more about the history of criminal law. Click here


CONTENTS

Foreword
Preface and Acknowledgments
Notes on Conversions; Monetary Values; Citation of Cases
Abbreviations

1. New Century, New State, Old Problems
2. The Poisoned Chalice of Mercy
3. Not A Code: The Common Law and the Queen’s Washerwoman
4. Mixed Motives in Edwardian Criminal Laws: Protection and Control
5. “Too Many Seconds”: TM Slattery and the Law of Theft
6. “A Shilling An Acre”: The Crown Lands Scandals 1905-1907
7. A Grudging Step Towards Legal Aid
8. The Scorchers: Taming the Horseless Carriage
9. Mixed Motives Again: The Aborigines Protection Act 1909
10. Criminal Law and Economics: The “Leg-Iron” Election of 1910
11. Wing-Collar Crime: The Coal Vend, and Big Sugar
12. Age of Consent: The Girls’ Protection Act, 1910
13. Trial and Error: The Criminal Appeal Act 1912
14. Making War and Making Crimes: 1914–1916
15. The Grass Parliament, and Aftershocks: 1916-1920
16. Some Elections, Tom Bavin and a Wedding Law: 1920-1925
17. John Latham and Commonwealth Crimes: Saviour from Subversion
18. Lang, Bavin, Razors and Reform
19. Hard Times: Depression and the State Criminal Law
20. Latham Again, Menzies, and a Popular Czech, 1932–1935
21. The Right Suspect, and Sane
22. Craig, Davies and Cody: A Dissent, and a Caution
23. The Golden Thread and the Golden Threads
24. Two Tall Poppies: Homosexuals and the Courts between the Wars
25. The Musical Policeman: Illicit Betting Inquiries, 1936-1938
26. War Again: Regulations and Resistance
27. A Welcome Occupation: Americans, Police Scandal and the Courts
28. War from a Magistrate’s Bench
29. Hardly Treason: The Case of Major Cousens
30. Justinian in Khaki: CE Martin and the Public Defender
31. Police Interrogation at Mid-Century: "Realism", "Sentiment" and an angry Chief Justice
32. More Democratic Juries, and the Ladies' Auxiliary
33. Cold War and Hot Words: Sedition and Lance Sharkey, 1949
34. "Kiss-in-the-ring": State Crimes Act Amendments of 1951
35. "Reffos, Balts and Wogs": New Australians in the Criminal Courts, 1945-1955
36. The Beer Rebellion: Barwick and the Fibbers
37. Police Scrumdown, a Royal Distraction and the Press Barons
38. "Fallen Among Christians": Death Penalty Abolition, 1955

Bibliography
Table of Cases
Table of Statutes
Index


REVIEWS

This book is the second volume of Dr Woods’ work in writing about the history of criminal law in NSW. The first volume dealt with the period 1788–1900, i.e. the start of the colony and all of the convict inspired criminal laws and punishment that we are all too familiar with. Volume Two deals with life after 1900, i.e. the start of a new century and the start of Federation, and finishes at 1955, which was a significant year as it was the year that the death penalty was effectively abolished in NSW for all offences (notable exceptions were treason and piracy).
         What we have in this book is a wonderfully detailed summary of what seems like the most famous/infamous/important criminal law cases and legislation (both substantial laws and procedural laws) that were dealt with by the Courts in NSW during this period, and it is through these cases and laws that we learn about the life and times of the day, the feelings and prejudices of the times and the political issues that were grappled with. The research is from standard sources of the law, and also from the major city and regional newspapers which apparently reported parliamentary proceedings very fully, at least between 1901 to about 1945. …
         The book is beautifully written, with a story book feel rather than a text book, and there is much to learn. One can only imagine what the next period of criminal law would look like, from 1956 to now. Changes to the role of women affecting the Jury Act and personnel in our Courts, the rise of corporate criminal law, significant changes to sexual assault legislation, necessary changes to sentencing, a new form of immigration and the law of terrorism, are just some of the key topics we may see being dissected and discussed, in such a detailed and interesting way.

Caroline Dobraszczyk, Bar News, NSW Bar Association, Winter 2019

The new state of which this magnificent work speaks was new in two senses. The colony of NSW had become a state of the new federal Commonwealth of Australia. Less visibly, the government of NSW over the half century the subject of the work was to become more regulatory and more invasive. The pace of change – whether caused by federation, or two wars, or the great depression, or political philosophy, or the development of democracy itself – occurred so quickly in historical terms that mere qualitative change from pre-1901 to post-1955 justifies the title. ...
         The hero in Woods’ history is this incoherent liberalism, a resilient belief that the government in any civilised society is not merely about the exercise of power, or even about its restraint, but about also an explanation of that exercise for the rest of us. It is a tale well told.

David Ash, Francis Forbes Society Newsletter, February 2019

   

Published 19 December 2018
Publisher The Federation Press
Hardback/896pp
ISBN 9781760021931
Australian RRP $85.00
International Price $78.00
currency converter

Available


Australian History / Studies
Law - Legal History
Law - Criminal Law & Procedure
History
Criminology & Policing - Criminal Justice History
Secondary School Resources


        BACK TO TOP