Supreme Court of the Northern Territory
The Supreme Court of the Northern Territory is the superior court for the Australian Territory of the Northern Territory. It has unlimited jurisdiction within the territory in civil matters, and hears the most serious criminal matters. It is around the middle of the Australian court hierarchy.
|Supreme Court of the Northern Territory|
Northern Territory Supreme Court Building
|Established||May 30, 1911|
|Composition method||appointed by the Administrator|
|Appeals to||High Court of Australia|
|Judge term length||mandatory retirement by age of 70|
|Number of positions||6|
|Chief Justice of the Northern Territory.|
Shortly after the first settlement at Palmerston, Port Darwin in 1869–70, pressure was placed upon the South Australian government to establish a superior court in the then Northern Territory of South Australia. Although such a court was mooted, it was decided to send judges to Palmerston on circuit. The first circuit court was held in February 1875.
Thereafter, from 1875 to 1884, the government appointed persons as commissioners (usually the Government Resident) to exercise the power of a judge of the Supreme Court of South Australia in all but trials of capital offences.
The court was established on 30 May 1911, shortly after South Australia surrendered the territory to the Commonwealth. The first judge of the court was Samuel James Mitchell. The only person to hold the office of Chief Judge, which was created in 1975, was Sir William Forster who held the position from 1977-1979. The position title was changed to Chief Justice in 1979, and Forster was the first Chief Justice from 1979-1985. There have been 6 Chief Justices since 1979 . There are currently six resident judges (including the Chief Justice) and two additional judges and two acting judges, making a total of ten Supreme Court justices.
In 1927, when the Northern Australia 1926 Act (Cth) came into force, the Northern Territory was divided into two territories; North Australia and Central Australia. The Supreme Court was not abolished, but continued to exist as the Supreme Court of North Australia and the Supreme Court of Central Australia. After the Northern Territory Act was repealed in 1931, the Northern Territory was reconstituted as a single Territory of the Commonwealth. The Supreme Court of Central Australia was abolished and the Supreme Court of North Australia continued as the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory.
When a new Supreme Court complex was built, Indigenous artist Norah Nelson Napaljarri was chosen to design a mosaic for its forecourt. The design concept of the Supreme Court, as requested by the client the Northern Territory Government, was to reflect the elements of the "Greek Revival" Hong Kong Shanghai Bank constructed in Hong Kong in the 1800s viz: the colonnade around the building, the mansard roof and the portico entrance as well as giving reference to its tropical location and its colonial past. The collaborating architects were Peter Doig, Ron Findlay and Roger Linklater: the interior was designed by Susie Cole. The architectural style is best described as Neo-colonial.
The Supreme Court occasionally sits in other locations in the Northern Territory, including Katherine, Tennant Creek and Nhulunbuy. The Supreme Court has also on occasion sat at remote aboriginal communities.
Judgments from Supreme Court trials are available to the public , as are the sentencing remarks , unless a suppression order has been taken preventing these being released (for example, involving juveniles, public figures or in some controversial matters).
Judges of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory
As at November 2019 (appointment date in brackets):
|Justice Stephen Southwood||31 January 2005|
|Justice Judith Kelly||12 August 2009|
|Justice Jenny Blokland||9 April 2010|
|Justice Peter Barr||30 September 2010|
|Justice Graham Hiley||1 March 2013|
|John Reeves||May 2009|
|Acting Justice Dean Mildren||1 March 2013|
|Acting Justice Brian Martin||2010|
|Acting Justice Trevor Riley|
|Acting Justice Anthony Graham||August 2017|
- "History of the Supreme Court". nt.gov.au. Archived from the original on 18 September 2008.
- Northern Territory Justice Act (SA) (PDF) – via Austlii
- "North Australia Act, No. 16 of 1926". Commonwealth of Australia. 4 June 1926. pp. 55–56. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
Clause 40; Continuation of Courts
- "Northern Territory (Administration) Act (No 2) 1931 (NO. 7, 1931)". Commonwealth of Australia. 26 June 1931. pp. 11–12. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
Clause 5; Continuation of Courts
- Birnberg, Margo; Janusz Kreczmanski (2004). Aboriginal Artist Dictionary of Biographies: Australian Western, Central Desert and Kimberley Region. Marleston, South Australia: J.B. Publishing. p. 209. ISBN 1-876622-47-4.