Judge of the District Court of New South Wales, 22/10/1951 - 30/06/1973
Chairman of Quarter Sessions New South Wales, 22/10/1951 - 30/06/1973
Judge of the District Court Civil Jurisdiction, New South Wales 01/07/1973 - 15/02/1977
Judge of the District Court Criminal Jurisdiction, New South Wales 01/07/1973 - 15/02/1977
Acting Judge, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 12/01/1953 - 08/02/1953
John Michael Brennan was born on 11 October 1910 at Hawthorn, Victoria, the son of Henry Philip Brennan, a journalist, and his wife Mary Teresa nee Mackintosh. He was educated at St Patrick's College, East Melbourne, and the University of Melbourne (LLB). The son of a farmer, Henry Philip Brennan came from a family of journalists, lawyers and politicians who gained their education through the financial support of their siblings. The family included Francis Brennan who was Attorney General from 1929 to 1931 in the Federal Labor Scullin Government, Senator Thomas Cornelius Brennan who represented the United Australia Party from 1931 to 1937, and Anna Teresa Brennan, the second woman to practise law in Victoria. (1)
From 1932 to 1937 John Michael Brennan was Associate to Justice Herbert Vere Evatt at the High Court of Australia. In this role he also assisted Evatt with the preparation and publication of histories of Governor Bligh (The Rum Rebellion) and W A Holman (Australian Labour Leader: the story of W A Holman and the labour movement). (2)
Brennan was admitted to the Victorian Bar on 14 August 1938 and to the New South Wales Bar on 4 October 1938. His chambers were in 53 Martin Place, Sydney, and he appeared for the appellant in Chester versus The Council of Waverley in 1939. (3)
During World War II, Brennan enlisted in the Australian Army on 4 March 1942 and served in New Guinea. When discharged on 5 July 1944 he was a Lance Corporal with the 2/25th Battalion. In 1944 and 1945 Brennan was a Counsel assisting the War Crimes Commission. (4)
Brennan returned to practise in New South Wales in 1946 but also undertook judicial roles in other countries. He was an Acting Justice of the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea and in 1948 was Resident Magistrate in Fiji for a year. (5)
Brennan was appointed a Judge of all District Courts in New South Wales and a Chairman of Quarter Sessions on 22 October 1951. He presided at Parramatta and Sydney Quarter Sessions at Darlinghurst. He retired on 15 February 1977. In December 1952, six District Court judges were chosen as Acting Supreme Court judges during the Supreme Court's Vacation period to reduce the backlog of Common Law cases and divorces. Brennan was an Acting Judge in the Matrimonial Jurisdiction from 12 January to 8 February 1953. (6)
Brennan died at Sydney on 8 March 1989. He had married Jean Margaret Maxwell at Sydney on 6 June 1942 and they had one son and three daughters. (7)
1. Who's Who in Australia, Melbourne, The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd, 1955, p.115; 1959, p.116; 1962, p.114; 1965, p.118; 1968, p.119; 1971, p.132; 1974, p.140; 1977, p.146; 1980, p.132; HJH Henchman, A Court Rises: the lives and times of the judges of the District Court of New South Wales. Supplement No.1. 1959-1982, Judge 61, Syd., Law Foundation of New South Wales, 1982, n.p.; Australian Law Journal, Vol.64, p.307 (May 1990), Victorian birth certificate 1910/27957.
2. HJH Henchman, op.cit.; Australian Law Journal, op.cit.
3. Barrister and Solicitors Admission Boards; NRS 13665, Roll of Barristers, 17 February 1927 - 10 June 1955; Reel 2147, p.13; Australian Law Journal, op.cit.; New South Wales Law Almanac for 1941, Sydney, NSW Government Printer, 1941, p.67.
4. ibid; 'Brennan, John Michael', Department of Veterans Affairs World War 2 Nominal Roll http://www.ww2roll.gov.au/script/veteran.asp?ServiceID=A&VeteranID=199590 (cited 4 June 2008).
5. HJH Henchman, op.cit.; Australian Law Journal, op.cit.; Who's Who in Australia, op.cit.
6. HJH Henchman, op.cit.; New South Wales Law Almanac for 1952, Sydney, NSW Government Printer, 1952, p.50; Australian Law Journal, Vol.25, p.459 (19 November 1951); Attorney General's Department [III]; NRS 333, Letters received - Special Bundles, 1874-1984; [12/4598.3] Employment of Acting Judges, 1952-1960.
7. Sydney Morning Herald, death notice, 9 March 1989; Australian Law Journal, Vol.64, p.307 (May 1990); Who's Who in Australia, op.cit.