This biography, the 12th in Bennettâ€™s Lives of Australian Chief Justices, commemorates the distinguished career of Tasmaniaâ€™s Sir Valentine Fleming.
An English barrister of Irish descent and education, Fleming arrived in Hobart as Insolvency Commissioner. A â€śuseful manâ€ť to government, he advanced as Crown Law Officer and served ex officio in the Legislative Council until succeeding Sir John Pedder as Chief Justice in 1854.
This elevation released Fleming from a political role he hated and enabled him to dispel the enmity his pro-government views in that role had attracted.
He proved to be a model judicial lawyer, blending a conscientious, considerate and courteous manner with a powerful command of legal principle, as when his decision in Hampton v. Fenton that a colonial legislature had no inherited power to punish extra-mural contempt, was upheld by the Privy Council.
Although keeping generally aloof from the community, he was the first Chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Tasmania and; a proponent of universal education, the first President of the Tasmanian Council of Education. His grand Hobart residence â€śHolbrookâ€ť, convict designed and in a Scottish style, is a surviving memorial.
The life and times of Sir Valentine Fleming are not well known to most people and, but for this fine book by J.M. Bennett, his place in history would be little more than a couple of notes in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. Which is altogether an unjust remembrance for a man who was a faithful and diligent servant of the public and one of the finest judicial decision-makers in the early days of the Australian colonies.
... The fine work of Bennett opens an engrossing work on the life of Fleming, describing him as a private man who took pride in his appearance and his role in the community. In this work I canâ€™t help but sense that Fleming would be very pleased with his portrayal. - Proctor May 2008
This biography the 12th in Bennettâ€™s Lives of Australian Chief Justices, commemorates the distinguished career of Tasmanaâ€™s Sir Valentine Fleming. - SA L:aw Society Journal, June 2008
this very readable volume offers an interesting view into colonial society...a well-researched work, with extensive notes. - Australian Law Librarian, Vol 16 No 2, 2008
The general reader as well as the legal community will enjoy reading cases Fleming presided over. - Noel Shaw, The Examiner (Launceston), 1 March 2008
Dr. Bennett takes us back in time, whilst enabling us to view the past from our present perspective, a remarkable gift ... These books are most readable ... very easy to read in one session, or a chapter or so at a time. ...
I think what interests me most about these books is the insight they present to the expectations of the community 160 years ago, as much as the revelation of the personality of the subject of the book. Fleming certainly received a lot of attention both from the politicians and the press. His ability to retain his composure and objectivity is, on my reading, one of the major threads to come through the book.
... I would again highly recommend this and all the previous â€śLivesâ€ť for any person, practitioner or otherwise, who has any interest in the early conduct of the Courts and the practice of the law in Colonial Tasmania. - Law Letter, Autumn 2008
Table of Contents
Foreword by The Honourable William Cox
List of Illustrations
â€śA Laborious, Pains-taking Young Lawyerâ€ť
â€śThe Right of Exercising His Own Private Judgmentâ€ť
Replacing a Chief Justice
The Fleming Supreme Court
Hampton v. Fenton (1855); Fenton v. Hampton (1858)
Business Before the Court
Retirement, Recall and Retirement Again