Carolyn Chalmers Simpson
|Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales|
30 March 1946 |
Forbes, New South Wales
|Residence||Sydney, New South Wales|
|Alma mater||Presbyterian Ladies' College, Sydney
Bathurst Teachers College
University of Sydney
Carolyn Chalmers Simpson (born 30 March 1946) is a judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Simpson made legal history in 1999 as one of three women judges who formed the first all-female bench to sit in an Australian court.
Early life and education
She received her education as a boarder at the Presbyterian Ladies' College, Sydney at Croydon, and following matriculation attended Bathurst Teachers College (an antecedent to Charles Sturt University), graduating with a Diploma of Education in 1965. After five years of teaching, a friend of Simpson's suggested she study law. She graduated from the University of Sydney in 1971.
Simpson was a member of the University of Sydney Law Extension Committee from 1972–76, an Officer of the Department of Youth and Community Services from 1974–76, President of the Society of Labor Lawyers, and President of the Council for Civil Liberties from 1976 to 1979. She was admitted to the New South Wales bar in 1976 and appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1989. In 1994, she was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
Simpson made headlines in April 1999, when she and Justices Margaret Beazley and Virginia Bell sat in the Court of Criminal Appeal in Sydney. The judges threw out an appeal from a convicted computer hacker who had, out of "sheer maliciousness", been posting offensive messages on Ausnet's homepage. According to the Women Lawyers Association of NSW, there had never been an all-female bench in England or New Zealand at the time.
Subsequently, Simpson expressed the view that as more women are appointed judges in the Supreme Court, there will be more benches of three. "Given the opportunity, women achieve and do as well as men", she said.
In 2005, Simpson presided over the much publicised case of Network Ten v Jessica Rowe. Ten claimed that the 5pm Ten News reader had breached her "open-ended" contract by failing to give six months' notice in writing. Simpson dismissed the action and ordered Ten to pay Rowe's court costs, finding that the contract was for a closed period of two years and expired at the conclusion of the case.
Further, Simpson set a precedent in 2007 when she awarded around A$1 million to a teenager who was bullied at primary school. She concluded the school had "grossly failed" in its duty of care to Benjamin Cox, who now suffers from a severe psychiatric condition.
- Suzannah Pearce, ed. (2006-11-17). "SIMPSON Carolyn Chalmers, Hon. Justice". Who's Who in Australia Live!. North Melbourne, Vic: Crown Content Pty Ltd.
- Graham, Sally (2000-05-26). "Setting the Benchmark". Alumni news. Charles Sturt University. Retrieved 2007-09-30.
- McFarlane, John (1988). "Ex-Students". The Golden Hope: Presbyterian Ladies' College, Sydney 1888-1988. Croydon, NSW: P.L.C Council, Presbyterian Ladies' College, Sydney. p. 243. ISBN 0-9597340-1-5.
- "Media Watch". Gazette (Sydney, NSW: The University of Sydney). 1999. p. 14. Archived from the original on 2008-02-28. Retrieved 2007-09-30..
- Casella, Nicolette (2005-12-31). "Rowe on cloud Nine". Entertainment (The Daily Telegraph). Retrieved 2007-09-30.[dead link]
- AAP (2007-05-22). "Govt considers appeal on bullied boy". National (The Age). Retrieved 2007-09-30.