Five months after the colony was founded ( in 1837), the Supreme Court of South Australia was established. The rapidity of this creation made it unique among all the other Australian States, i.e. the other states did not establish any judicial systems until long after the settlement of their colonies. With unlimited jurisdiction over civil matters and authority to hear the most serious of criminal cases, this highest court in South Australia held its first session in May of 1837. It was presided over by Sir John Jeffcott as the “First Judge of the Court.” The tittle of Chief Justice was not officially introduced until 1856. Most cases of the Supreme Court are heard by a single justice. The “Full Court” (consisting of three judges) sits on appeals from a single-judge session. In the early 1850’s, Justice Benjamin Boothby was appointed to the Supreme Court of South Australia. His tenure was full of controversy as he asserted that the “...parliament of South Australia had not been validly constituted since the enactment of the Constitution Act of 1855-1856.” The constitutional crisis created by Boothby resulted in the Colonial Laws Validity Act of 1865, which was designed to remove any apparent inconsistencies between local (“colonial”) and British (“imperial”) legislation. It also resulted in his removal from the bench.
Sitting opposite Victoria Square in Adelaide’s central business district, the Supreme Court building of South Australia houses several court rooms, judges chambers, the Court Library System, and the Probate Registry. The building’s main lobby, with its magnificent staircase, is one of the more ornate and beautiful municipal buildings we have enecountered.