Thomas Alexander Wells (c.1888–13 September 1954) was a judge of the Northern Territory Supreme Court in Darwin, Australia. He was known for having misdirected the jury in a high-profile case in 1934, which was later overturned in an appeal in the High Court of Australia known as Tuckiar v The King .
The High Court of Australia is the supreme court in the Australian court hierarchy and the final court of appeal in Australia. It has both original and appellate jurisdiction, the power of judicial review over laws passed by the Parliament of Australia and the parliaments of the states, and the ability to interpret the Constitution of Australia and thereby shape the development of federalism in Australia.
Tuckiar v The King is a landmark Australian judgment of the High Court which was decided on 8 November 1934, after a two-day hearing on 29–30 October 1934. The matter examined the behaviour of the judge and lawyers in the trial of Yolngu man Dhakiyarr (Tuckiar) Wirrpanda in the Northern Territory Supreme Court a year earlier, and overturned the judgement which had found the appellant guilty and sentenced him to death. At the time the original case had stirred much controversy and caused a debate about the appropriateness of the Australian justice system for Indigenous Australians. It has become a case study in and raises many issues for legal ethics regarding instructions by Judges and the behaviour of defence counsel, as well as the treatment of Indigenous people before the Australian justice system.
Wells was a court reporter for a Sydney newspaper.
Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Located on Australia's east coast, the metropolis surrounds Port Jackson and extends about 70 km (43.5 mi) on its periphery towards the Blue Mountains to the west, Hawkesbury to the north, the Royal National Park to the south and Macarthur to the south-west. Sydney is made up of 658 suburbs, 40 local government areas and 15 contiguous regions. Residents of the city are known as "Sydneysiders". As of June 2017, Sydney's estimated metropolitan population was 5,230,330 and is home to approximately 65% of the state's population.
He served overseas in WWI and on returning to Australia studied law in Sydney, where he practised at the bar for nine years after graduating.
In law, the bar is the legal profession as an institution. The term is a metonym for the line that separates the parts of a courtroom reserved for spectators and those reserved for participants in a trial such as lawyers.
In 1933 he was appointed Judge of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory, following the retirement of Justice Mallam (1878–1954).
He presided over some of the Territory's most high-profile trials, including the murder trial of Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda, a Yolngu man from Caledon Bay in Arnhem Land, who was convicted of murdering Constable Albert Stewart McColl at Woodah Island on 1 August 1933. This was part of a series of events known as the Caledon Bay crisis Dhakiyarr was convicted of murder and sentenced to death, but seven months later this verdict was overturned in the Tuckiar v The King case. Several reasons were given for the success of the appeal, including that Judge Wells had misdirected the jury.
Caledon Bay is a bay in Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory of Australia, at approximately 12.8° S, 136.5° E. It is perhaps most famous as the home of a group of Yolngu people who were key players in the Caledon Bay crisis, which marked a turning point in the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Arnhem Land is one of the five regions of the Northern Territory of Australia. It is located in the north-eastern corner of the territory and is around 500 km (310 mi) from the territory capital Darwin. The region has an area of 97,000 km2 (37,000 sq mi), which also covers the area of Kakadu National Park, and a population of 16,230. In 1623, Dutch East India Company captain William van Colster sailed into the Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape Arnhem is named after his ship, the Arnhem, which itself was named after the city of Arnhem in the Netherlands.
Woodah Island, also known as Isle Woodah, is an island in Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory of Australia, lying in the mouth of Blue Mud Bay at. It is located 13.4 km east of Haddon Head on the coast of mainland Arnhem Land. It is 24 km long north-south, and up to 3.5 km wide.
He was more regarded more benignly for ordering the doors of Fannie Bay Gaol open following the Japanese air raids in 1942, rather than have them suffer should the jail receive a direct hit.
Fannie Bay Gaol is a historic gaol in Fannie Bay, Northern Territory, Australia. The gaol operated as Her Majesty's Gaol and Labour Prison, from 20 September 1883 until 1 September 1979.
The Bombing of Darwin, also known as the Battle of Darwin, on 19 February 1942 was the largest single attack ever mounted by a foreign power on Australia. On that day, 242 Japanese aircraft, in two separate raids, attacked the town, ships in Darwin's harbour and the town's two airfields in an attempt to prevent the Allies from using them as bases to contest the invasion of Timor and Java during World War II.
He was himself evacuated to Alice Springs following the air raids, returning in 1945.
He suffered a stroke in 1951, and retired the following year. He died in Darwin Hospital in September 1954.[ citation needed ]
Wells Street, in the Darwin suburbs of Ludmilla and Parap, is named after him.[ citation needed ]
John Jeremy Doyle,, Australian jurist, was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia, the highest ranking court in the Australian State of South Australia, between 1995 and 2012.
Michael Leigh Chamberlain was a New Zealand-Australian writer, teacher and pastor falsely implicated in the August 1980 death of his missing daughter Azaria, which was later demonstrated to be the result of a dingo attack while the family was camping near Uluru in the Northern Territory, Australia. Chamberlain's then-wife Lindy was falsely convicted of the baby's murder in 1982 and he was convicted of being an accessory after the fact. The findings of a 1987 royal commission ultimately exonerated the couple, but not before they were subjected to sensationalist reporting and intense public scrutiny.
John Leslie Toohey, AC, QC was an Australian judge who was a Justice of the High Court of Australia from 1987 to 1998.
Sir Owen Dixon was an Australian judge and diplomat who served as the sixth Chief Justice of Australia. A judge of the High Court for thirty-five years, Dixon was one of the leading jurists in the English-speaking world and is widely regarded as Australia's greatest-ever jurist.
The Supreme Court of the Northern Territory is the superior court for the Australian Territory of the Northern Territory. It has unlimited jurisdiction within the territory in civil matters, and hears the most serious criminal matters. It is around the middle of the Australian court hierarchy.
The Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory is the highest court of the Australian Capital Territory. It has unlimited jurisdiction within the territory in civil matters and hears the most serious criminal matters.
The Caledon Bay crisis, refers to a series of killings at Caledon Bay in the Northern Territory of Australia during 1932–34, referred to in the press of the day as Caledon Bay murder(s). Five Japanese trepang fishers were killed by Aboriginal Australians of the Yolngu people. A police officer investigating the deaths, Albert McColl, was subsequently killed. Shortly afterwards, and two white men went missing on Woodah Island. With some of the white community alarmed by these events, a punitive expedition was proposed by NT police to "teach the blacks a lesson".
Crime in the Northern Territory is managed by the Northern Territory Police, the territory government's Department of the Attorney-General and Justice and Northern Territory Families.
Brian Ross Martin is an Australian jurist. He was a judge of the Supreme Court of South Australia before being appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory in 2004. He served in the Northern Territory between 2004 and 2010. He served as an acting Judge of the Supreme Court of Western Australia in 2012.
Keith John Austin Asche, AC, QC is a former Administrator of the Northern Territory and was the third Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory.
The Supreme Court of Norfolk Island is the superior court for Australian territory of Norfolk Island. It has unlimited jurisdiction within the territory in civil matters and hears the most serious criminal matters. It also has jurisdiction over the Coral Sea Islands Territory. All matters are heard before a single judge, including appeals from the Court of Petty Sessions. In the Australian court hierarchy it is one of eight state and territory Supreme Courts having unlimited jurisdiction in their respective parts of Australia. Appeal lies to the Federal Court of Australia, from which an appeal by special leave can be made to the High Court of Australia.
Nemarluk was a fierce Aboriginal warrior who lived around present-day Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia. He fought strongly against both white and Japanese intruders who had come, unasked, into his people's tribal lands.
Sir Hector Horace Hearne was a British barrister and judge.
James Henry Muirhead AC KStJ QC was an Administrator of the Northern Territory and a Judge of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory.
The Local Court of the Northern Territory is a court in the Northern Territory which has jurisdiction in civil disputes up to A$250,000, and criminal jurisdiction in the trial of summary offences and deal with preliminary matters for indictable offences which are then heard by the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory.
Martin Leach, is a convicted rapist and double murderer in Australia, and has been described as one of, if not the Northern Territory's worst, killer.
The Palm Island Tragedy occurred in 1930 on Palm Island aborigines settlement on Great Palm Island in Queensland, Australia, when the settlement's Superintendent shot and wounded two people, and set fire to several buildings, killing his two children. Later in the day, the Superintendent was shot dead. An official inquiry by the Queensland Attorney General followed. Those involved in the shooting death were charged with murder, but during the trial, under the advice of the trial judge, the Crown Prosecutor dropped the charges.
The Church of Christ the King is located in Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory of Australia. The church was relocated from the historic mining town of Pine Creek. With parts of the church spread between the two towns during the move, it was once known as the "longest church in Australia".
Ross Ibbotson Dalton Mallam, invariably known as R. I. D. Mallam or Justice Mallam, was a judge of the Northern Territory Supreme Court.