Supreme Court

Sir Julian Emanuel Salomons, Kt

Fifth Chief Justice of NSW
12 November 1886 - 27 November 1886

Although he held a commission and assumed the office of Chief Justice, he was not sworn in, never sat on the bench and resigned in dramatic circumstances only a fortnight after his appointment.

JE Salomons, QC was born at Edgbaston, England, on 4 November 1836. Seventeen years later he travelled to New South Wales in search of fortune. He became a bookseller and, according to one account, a stockbroker's clerk. From 1855 he was for a time secretary to the Synagogue then in York Street, Sydney. His interest in public speaking encouraged him to read for the colonial Bar, but the Jewish community paid for him to go back to England and enter Gray's Inn. Called to the Bar in 1861 he returned at once to Sydney and was admitted to the Bar there on 8 July of the same year.

Salomons was appointed to the office of Chief Justice on 12 November 1886. The appointment of Julian Emanuel Salomons as Chief Justice of New South Wales began and ended in controversy. Salomons gained his legal education in England with the support of the Jewish community in Sydney and was admitted to the New South Wales Bar in 1861. His unconventional style of charging set fees and aggressive demonstrative advocacy attracted much criticism, but he achieved the status of a great celebrity in a number of notorious criminal cases for his manner, wit and determination to win. Consequently, his appointment as Chief Justice came as a surprise to many of his judicial colleagues. Within two weeks, he had resigned, driven out under pressure from many in the legal profession who did not consider him a suitable candidate for the position.

He returned to a leadership of the Bar and was a notable counsel before the High Court until he retired from practice in 1907. He played some part in politics. In 1869-1870 he had been Solicitor-General and, in 1870, was also Government Representative in the Legislative Council. He returned to the Council in 1887 and was a member until 1899; being Vice-President of the Executive Council on two occasions. In 1891 he received the honour of a knighthood. He died on 6 April 1909.