I was walking past the magnificent law courts in Brisbane the other day and my eye caught a small notice board which said "Without fear or favour". I loved this title and it intrigued me, so I headed in to find out more about it.
I was shown to the Supreme Court Library Queensland's small exhibition hall on the ground floor – and a very helpful employee pointed out some of the exhibits to me and engaged me in a lively conversation about the legal system, the last person who was hanged in Brisbane, and the challenges of the day.
So I walked around fascinated by the archival material that had been made available, a first edition o the Criminal Code 1889, signed by Sir Samuel Griffith (on display until the end of October) photos of the courts and the judges of the time, newspaper reports on famous cases and events, as well as very readable and easily understood representations of the legal system and the way it operates.
The exhibition explains the significant events that shaped the current legal system in Queensland. It gives summaries of important cases and explains the concept of the common law upon which the legal system is based.
It gives an interesting historical perspective of the courts and the personalities who played a significant part in it and introduces us to giants in the legal system but also Queensland life like Sir Samuel Griffith and Lord Atkin.
Last but not least, it gives a vivid and colourful representation of the criminal justice system and how a person would go through it in a colourful and interactive manner.
A little surprised? Well yes, I was actually, because this is approachable and understandable and somehow the law is not famed for being colourful or easily understood. This exhibition, small and compact, does both these things.
So this is one to visit. It is free to all and I would certainly say it makes a lovely introduction to anyone thinking about studying law at university and families or school parties who might want to explain to children how the system works and why it so important.
For me there is no bigger testament of the importance of the law and the judicial system then the wonderful and inspiring work of art in front of the law courts – "Eyes Are Singing Out" by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. It is on a wall looking up at the Courts as if to say we the citizens of this State are watching you, knowing you will execute the letter of the law in an unbiased and fair way.
The exhibition is open:
Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm
Sir Harry Gibbs Legal Heritage Centre, Supreme Court Library Queensland
Ground floor, Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law
415 George Street, Brisbane