Callinan J

The Lesson

Two High Court justices give a self-represented litigant a lesson in constitutional interpretation.

GAUDRON J: Now, would you like to read section 80 of the Constitution, Mr Wilson?

MR WILSON: Read section 80?

GAUDRON J: Yes, that is what - and see exactly what it relates to.

MR WILSON: I will read section 80 of the Constitution. It says:

The trial on indictment of any offence against any law of the Commonwealth shall be by jury - - -

GAUDRON J: That is right, “against any law of the Commonwealth”. You are charged with contempt of court of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

MR WILSON: Which is part of the Commonwealth.

GAUDRON J: Well, it may be part of the Commonwealth, but it deals with - - -

MR WILSON: You cannot exclude New South Wales from the Commonwealth.

GAUDRON J: - - - it deals with a distinct area of judicial power. It involves a distinct area of judicial power.

CALLINAN J: Mr Wilson, both the Commonwealth - - -

MR WILSON: I am a bit hard of hearing and I ask you to speak louder.

CALLINAN J: Both the Commonwealth and the States in Australia can make laws.

MR WILSON: And any law of a State - - -

CALLINAN J: No, no, you just listen to me for a moment - - -

MR WILSON: - - - which is inconsistent with a law of the Commonwealth is invalid under section 109.

CALLINAN J: No, Mr Wilson, you are not understanding what I am saying. They each can have laws within their own areas of power and the States have power to make laws for the regulation of the State courts, and that is, in effect, what you are charged with, breaking a law made for the regulation of proceedings in the State courts.

Citation: Wilson v The Prothonotary (S127/1998) [1999] HCATrans 108 (16 April 1999)

The Dictator

When the self-represented litigant accuses Gummow J of being a dictator, you know the special leave application is not going well. With thanks to Duncan for the reference.

MR WILSON: Down in Canberra they have erect the Magna Carta monument. Have you been to see it? You will not answer? Mr Callinan, have you seen it?

CALLINAN J: Look, you cannot really ask me questions, but, yes, I did see it, Mr Wilson.

MR WILSON: Well, this is a two-way thing, you were asking me questions and I am asking you.

GUMMOW J: No, it is not a two-way thing, actually.

MR WILSON: It is not?


MR WILSON: You are a dictator, are you?


MR WILSON: “You just lay down and I say nothing.”


MR WILSON: It is not on.

GUMMOW J: No, you are here to make your submissions on which we then rule.


GUMMOW J: We try to assist you by asking questions so that you can respond to what is on our mind.

MR WILSON: Your job - - -

GUMMOW J: Do not lecture us on what our job is, please.

MR WILSON: Your job is to ensure fairness.

GUMMOW J: No, it is not.

MR WILSON: It is not?

GUMMOW J: It is to apply justice, according to law.

MR WILSON: And what is justice? Justice is the protection of rights and the punishment of wrongs and justice is what I am after. Justice means - - -

GUMMOW J: Justice, according to law.

Citation: Wilson v St George Bank Ltd (S284/2001) [2003] HCATrans 597


KIRBY J: What is a wuss?

MR P J HANKS QC: I think in Victoria it is a wooz.

KIRBY J: What is it?

McHUGH J: It is you when you drink only one glass of beer.

KIRBY J: I would not fall out of the window.

CALLINAN J: This is real Clint Eastwood, John Wayne stuff.

Citation: Roncevich v Repatriation Commission (2005) 222 CLR 115


An old classic.

CALLINAN J: Mr Jackson, it seems to me that clearly the people at the party, including Ms Joslyn and Mr Berryman, went out with the intention of getting drunk.

MR D F JACKSON QC: It would be a big night, your Honour, big night.

CALLINAN J: With the intention of getting drunk and they fulfilled that intention.

MR JACKSON: Well, your Honour, young people sometimes——  Read more »

Citation: Joslyn v Berryman (2003) 214 CLR 552
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