Can justice and mercy co-exist?

Mercy v Justice

Law experts, students and academics reflected on the judicial tensions between justice and mercy as Australian Catholic University hosted the 10th annual Honourable Barry O’Keefe Memorial Lecture at its Peter Cosgrove Centre in North Sydney.

Justice of the High Court of Australia the Hon. Jacqueline Gleeson enriched the history of one of the most significant events for the Thomas More Law School, delivering the keynote speech a decade after her father former Chief Justice of Australia, the Hon. Murray Gleeson, spoke at the inaugural lecture.

Justice Jacqueline Gleeson addressed the challenge faced by judges and magistrates who tackled the competing demands of justice and mercy.

“The extent to which mercy is discernible in the administration of justice may come down to definitional arguments, particularly about the true nature of mercy and whether it is necessarily undeserved or unexpected,” she said.

“There is also no denying that the presence of mercy may depend upon the disposition of individual judicial officers.

“However, when properly exercised, mercy in the law is thoughtful and not arbitrary.”

Executive Dean of ACU’s Faculty of Law and Business Professor Andrew O’Neil emceed the event and presented bachelor degree students with Executive Dean’s Commendations. 

And the opening remarks were delivered by ACU Chancellor The Hon Martin Daubney AM.

The lecture was named in honour of the late Barry O’Keefe AM QC, the highly accomplished judge and lawyer who left a huge and lasting legacy over a life of service.

Justice O’Keefe was a justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, Chair of Interpol’s International Group of Experts on Corruption, and Chair of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, representing the Catholic Church and its response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

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