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On this day …….. 23rd September 1965

Roma Flinders Mitchell was born in Adelaide on 2 October 1913. She was educated at St Aloysius Convent College, Adelaide, and held ambitions from a young age to be a barrister. She excelled at Adelaide University, and her involvement in student politics led to her being a pioneer for women’s rights when she was denied entrance to the Law Students’ Society because she was a woman. This event led to the formation of the Women Law Students’ Society. Roma Mitchell was admitted to the Bar in 1934, and became a partner in the legal firm of Nelligan, Angas Parsons and Mitchell in 1935. She continued to excel in her career, an example of which was in 1940 when she was instrumental in assisting the drafting of the Guardianship of Infants Act, passed later that year by the South Australian Parliament. On 23 September 1965, Mitchell was made a Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia, the first Australian woman to achieve this position. Pioneering the Australian women’s rights movement, Mitchell was also the first woman in Australia to be a Queen’s Counsel (1962) and a chancellor of an Australian university, being Chancellor of the University of Adelaide from 1983-1990. As Governor of South Australia from 1991-1996, she also became the first woman Governor of an Australian state. In 1982 Roma Mitchell became a Dame Commander of the British Empire.

 

ON THIS DAY – April 30, 1950

NORTH MELBOURNE

Five hours after retirement, a Criminal Court jury found James Raymond O’Keefe, 58, barrister, guilty of the murder of his crippled wife at their home in North Melbourne on this day in 1950. Mr. Justice Gavan Duffy sentenced O’Keefe to death. He said he would pass on the jury’s strong recommendation for mercy, which he would second. Shortly after the jury retired, they returned to ask whether mental or emotional provocation would justify manslaughter after physical provocation. When the Judge replied, “No,” Mr. Monahan, K.C., Senior Counsel for O’Keefe, objected. The Judge said the objection would be noted. Addresses by Counsel revealed conflict between the Crown and the defence whether some words in a confession to police by O’Keefe showed it to be a “mercy killing.” O’Keefe made no effort to tell the Court the story of happenings on the Sunday when he first attacked his wife with a knife, which was wrenched from him. Evidence stated that O’Keefe used a bread knife. After a five minute struggle, he inflicted fatal wounds on her throat. Instead of putting O’Keefe into the witness box, his counsel called 16 witnesses to say that O’Keefe was a kindly, considerate husband, whose tolerance to his wife’s tantrums had collapsed when his practice was ruined and his patience exhausted.

 

On this day …….. 23rd September 1965

Roma Flinders Mitchell was born in Adelaide on 2 October 1913. She was educated at St Aloysius Convent College, Adelaide, and held ambitions from a young age to be a barrister. She excelled at Adelaide University, and her involvement in student politics led to her being a pioneer for women’s rights when she was denied entrance to the Law Students’ Society because she was a woman. This event led to the formation of the Women Law Students’ Society. Roma Mitchell was admitted to the Bar in 1934, and became a partner in the legal firm of Nelligan, Angas Parsons and Mitchell in 1935. She continued to excel in her career, an example of which was in 1940 when she was instrumental in assisting the drafting of the Guardianship of Infants Act, passed later that year by the South Australian Parliament. On 23 September 1965, Mitchell was made a Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia, the first Australian woman to achieve this position. Pioneering the Australian women’s rights movement, Mitchell was also the first woman in Australia to be a Queen’s Counsel (1962) and a chancellor of an Australian university, being Chancellor of the University of Adelaide from 1983-1990. As Governor of South Australia from 1991-1996, she also became the first woman Governor of an Australian state. In 1982 Roma Mitchell became a Dame Commander of the British Empire.

 

ON THIS DAY – April 30, 1950

NORTH MELBOURNE

Five hours after retirement, a Criminal Court jury found James Raymond O’Keefe, 58, barrister, guilty of the murder of his crippled wife at their home in North Melbourne on this day in 1950. Mr. Justice Gavan Duffy sentenced O’Keefe to death. He said he would pass on the jury’s strong recommendation for mercy, which he would second. Shortly after the jury retired, they returned to ask whether mental or emotional provocation would justify manslaughter after physical provocation. When the Judge replied, “No,” Mr. Monahan, K.C., Senior Counsel for O’Keefe, objected. The Judge said the objection would be noted. Addresses by Counsel revealed conflict between the Crown and the defence whether some words in a confession to police by O’Keefe showed it to be a “mercy killing.” O’Keefe made no effort to tell the Court the story of happenings on the Sunday when he first attacked his wife with a knife, which was wrenched from him. Evidence stated that O’Keefe used a bread knife. After a five minute struggle, he inflicted fatal wounds on her throat. Instead of putting O’Keefe into the witness box, his counsel called 16 witnesses to say that O’Keefe was a kindly, considerate husband, whose tolerance to his wife’s tantrums had collapsed when his practice was ruined and his patience exhausted.