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The Australian National University

Historians and Lawyers—What Can We Learn from Each Other?

Date and time

Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 16:15 - 17:30


McDonald Room, Menzies Library

School of History Seminar Series

Speaker: Justice Richard Button, NSW Supreme Court

Wednesday 29 April 2015 4:15–5:30 pm

It is not common for lawyers or judicial officers to think of themselves as historians.  Nor is it common for jurors in criminal trials to be characterised in that way.  And yet it could be said that the role of judges in determining the law is to look to the past, and the role of jurors is to reconstruct facts, to the extent that they are able, with regard to events sometimes many years before. A recently-appointed judge with long experience in the criminal justice system will reflect upon these and other issues, including whether there are little-known aspects of Australian legal history that could inform the work of other historians, and what an historian who is called as an expert witness should expect in the courtroom.

Justice Richard Button has been a judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales since 2012. Before then he was a Public Defender based in Sydney for 21 years. Justice Button has special interests in accessorial liability for criminal offences, constructive murder (also known as felony murder), and the history of the criminal law of New South Wales, and has published articles on the former two topics. He conducts an annual seminar on the History of the Criminal Law of NSW under the auspices of the Francis Forbes Society for Legal History.


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