Crawford feels honoured

Ewan Crawford
Ewan Crawford

One of Tasmania's most pre-eminent legal minds will be honoured today with a Companion of the Order of Australia medal.

The nation's second highest honour is being bestowed on former Supreme Court Chief Justice the Honourable Ewan Crawford for eminent service to the judiciary and the law.

Mr Crawford, who was elevated to the bench in 1988 and appointed chief justice from 2008 to 2013, said he felt  honoured by recognition in the Queens Birthday honours.

The Companion of the Order of Australia is awarded for eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree in service to Australia or humanity at large.

Mr Crawford's quarter century on the bench was challenging, rewarding and exciting, the recipient said from his Launceston home. 

`` I loved the challenge, problem solving all the time, (using) logic which I enjoy very much,'' he said.

``And it was a privilege but at the same time I found it quite exciting. I enjoyed all my cases and watching events unfold before me.''

Born in Launceston in 1941 the Launceston Church Grammar School student was initially set on becoming a scientist until his father's appointment to the Supreme Court saw him favour a legal career.  

After Justice Crawford graduated in law with honours at the University of Tasmania in 1964 he was picked by Launceston firm Douglas & Collins where he became a partner, focusing mainly on civil litigation. 

Appointed to the Supreme Court in 1988 he replaced Peter Underwood two decades later as chief justice. During his 54 years in the legal profession he saw many changes.

One evolution that he believes was for the better was the reduction in stuffy formality.

Mr Crawford said imposing sentences was a difficult job that became easier over time.

``The only way I can explain it is by saying we're trained lawyers, we're used to dealing with evidence we understand what reasonable doubt is . . . and we're experienced at doing it,'' he said. 

``Sentencing that was hard for the first year or so.'' 

Mr Crawford who handed down 1940 sentences  during his  time said being a judge involves taxing work. 

``It's an intense job but I loved that, you're never lost for things to do,'' he said. 

Despite this he's not missing the job as much as he thought he would and has enjoyed golf, gardening and spending time with his five grandchildren since retirement.  

Mr Crawford was one of just seven people awarded a Companion medal today. 

Justice Thomas Bathurst, who sits on the New South Wales bench, was the only other jurist awarded the honour. 

Mr Crawford was also awarded for his development of the legal profession, education and the Tasmanian community. 


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