Puisne Judge, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 03/09/1951 - 07/0-3/1975
Chief Judge at Common Law, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 20/04/1973 - 31/01/1975
Additional Judge of Appeal, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 20/04/1973 - 31/01/1975
Commissioner, Royal Commission on matters affecting Callan Park Mental Hospital, 13/12/1960 - 28/08/1961
Chairman, Working Party of the Prisons Act, 1952, and the Regulations and Prison Rules, 01/03/1973 - 10/10/1974
John Henry McClemens (known as Jock) was born on 7 March 1905 at Chatswood, Sydney, the son of Archibald John McClemens and his wife Mary Louisa nee Thompson. He was educated at Chatswood Public School, North Sydney High School and the University of Sydney (BA 1925, LLB 1928). He was awarded a Public Exhibition bursary based on his results in the Leaving Certificate Examination of November 1921 and passed the University's Matriculation examination in March 1922. He was an active student involved with Law School XV Rugby Union team, the Sydney University Union (Debate Committee 1925/25) and the Sydney University Law Society (Honorary Secretary 1927/28, one of the Vice-presidents from 1928/29 to at least 1930/31). (1)
McClemens was an articled clerk with FC Petrie from 1925 and was admitted as a solicitor on 15 March 1929. His offices were at 66 Pitt Street. He was called to the New South Wales Bar on 14 March 1930 and practised out of 170 Phillip Street (1930-32), 142 Phillip Street (1933), 182 Phillip Street (1934-38), 53 Martin Place (1939-42) and 167 Phillip Street (1943-51). He also practised on the Western Circuit. Specialising in workers compensation and the industrial jurisdiction, he also had an extensive practice in common law. His appointment as a King's Counsellor was approved by the Executive Council on 21 November 1945. (2)
On 3 September 1951, McClemens was appointed a Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. He was president of the Law Reform Committee by 1962. On 1 July 1972 six civil jurisdictions were created within the Supreme Court, including Common Law, under the Supreme Court Act 1970 (Act No.52, 1970) and the Law Reform (Law and Equity) Act 1972 (Act No.28, 1972). By September 1972 McClemens had been announced as the Chief Judge at Common Law, commencing his duties on 20 April 1973. As a Chief Judge he was also automatically an Additional Judge of Appeal. He resigned as Chief Judge at Common Law, and therefore an Additional Judge of Appeal, on 31 January 1975 and retired from the Supreme Court on 7 March 1975. He was farewelled on 19 February. (3)
McClemens was the sole Commissioner of the Royal Commission on matters affecting Callan Park Mental Hospital. The Commission was created by Letters Patent on 13 December 1960 and McClemens reported on 28 August 1961. McClemens' brief was to investigate accommodation, food, clothing and treatment, as well as allegations of cruelty to and neglect of patients, and theft and drunkenness by staff. Although he found that food had been stolen, he did not find widespread cruelty and neglect. He was critical of the overcrowding, and the lack of trained staff and the limited budget. The primary role of therapy should be to rehabilitate and discharge suitable patients. He was critical of how New South Wales treated the mentally ill. (4)
In March 1973 McClemens was made chairman of the Working Party of the Prisons Act, 1952, and the Regulations and Prison Rules. The Working Party's brief was 'to examine and report on deficiencies and inadequacies in the Prison Act Regulations and Prison Rules and to make recommendations for amendments in light of current penal philosophy'. (5) The Working Party reported on 10 October 1974.
McClemens had a long term interest in the sociology of crime and the rehabilitation of prisoners. He was active in the Prisoners Aid Society NSW, being a council member by 1955, vice-president by 1959 and president 1963 to 1967. He was a speaker at the first Australian wide conference held at Adelaide in 1960 on prison after-care. The conference formed the Australian Prison After-Care Council as a peak body, later known as the Australian Crime Prevention, Correction and After-Care Council and the Australian Crime Prevention Council. He was a vice-president of the Council by 1962 and president from 1963 to 1965 and again from 1973 to 1975. The Council was active in the formation in 1973 of the Australian Institute of Criminology, a Commonwealth statutory body, to assist practitioners and policy makers through research and publication. McClemens was also a member of the Advisory Committee of the Institute of Criminology at the University of Sydney from its inception till 1975. As well McClemens was active in the formation of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Crime Prevention, Correction and After-Care Council in 1972. The 1971 National Biennial Conference at Brisbane had recommended that State councils be created. The New South Wales Branch formed on 4 February 1972 with McClemens as its chairman. At its first annual general meeting on 4 August he was elected president for a two year term. (6)
McClemens was Australian representative at the Second United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders at London, 8 to 19 August 1960. He was Australian representative at a United Nations seminar in Canberra from 29 April to 11 May 1963 on the 'Role of Police in the Protection of Human Rights'. He was Leader of the Australian delegation to the Third United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders at Stockholm from 9 to 18 August 1965. In addition by 1961 he was an official Australian correspondent to the United Nation's Social Defence Section. (7)
McClemens was active in the community in organisations reflecting his beliefs. He was on the Board of Management of the Mater Misericordiae Hospital, North Sydney, from at least 1955 to 1971. By 1955 he was president of the Newman Association. By 1962 he was president of the University Catholic Federation of Australia. In 1970 he was on the Citizen's Welcome Committee for the Papal Visit of Pope Paul VI to Australia. During the 1950s he was president of the Citizen's TB League of NSW and vice-president of the National Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis in Australia (NSW Branch). By 1959 he was vice-president of the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association. By 1955 he was patron of the NSW Rugby Union Referees Association. (8)
During the 1960s he was actively involved in the preservation of historic buildings. He was a councillor of the National Trust of Australia (NSW) from 1959 to 1969 and president from 1961 to 1965. From 1962 to 1969 he was Chairman of the Australian Council of National Trusts. (9)
In 1960 McClemens was appointed a Knight Commander to the Order of St Gregory the Great by Pope John XXIII. Three prizes in Criminology were endowed in McClemens' name at the University of Sydney. An appeal inaugurated by the Institute of Criminology in 1978 resulted in an undergraduate prize as well as two postgraduates prizes, one in the Master of Laws degree and one in the Diploma of Criminology. (10)
John Henry McClemens died on 3 November 1975 at Mater Misercordie Hospital, Sydney, survived by his second wife, Joan Raymunde nee Delaney, whom he married in 1967. He was divorced from his first wife Florence Mary Elizabeth nee Jones in 1945. His son and daughter from his first marriage both died before him. (11)
1. Who's Who in Australia, Melb., Herald and Weekly Times Ltd, 1947, p.540; 1950, p.447; 1955, p.486; 1959, p.500; 1962, pp.532-3; 1965, p.534; 1968, p.551; 1971, p.613; 1974, p.661; Richard JW D'Apice, 'McClemens, John Henry (1905-1975)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A150209b.htm (cited 11 January 2008); 'Farewell to the Honourable Mr Justice McClemens', Banco Court, 19 February 1975, in Supreme Court of New South Wales; NRS 6252, Semi-official correspondence of Mr Justice J H McClemens; [6/4516.2] Correspondence with Chief Justice and Attorney General re resignation as Chief Judge at Common Law 1974-75; University of Sydney Calendar, 1922, pp.465-6, 472, 651; 1923, pp.501-4, 506, 680; 1925, pp.539, 542, 639, 726; 1926, pp.543, 726, 815, 878; 1927, pp.548, 894; 1928, pp.561, 668, 926; 1929, pp.859, 935; 1930, p.974, http://calendararchive.usyd.edu.au/index.php (cited 12 May, 11 November 2008).
2. 'Farewell to the Honourable Mr. Justice McClemens', op.cit.; Barrister and Solicitors Admission Boards; NRS 13667, Roll of Solicitors, 17 February 1927 - 20 November 1936; Reel 2147, p.10; Barrister and Solicitors Admission Boards; NRS 13665, Roll of Barristers, 17 February 1927 - 10 June 1955; Reel 2147, p.3; New South Wales Law Almanac, Syd., NSW Govt Printer, 1930, p.105; 1931, p.72; 1932, pp.73, 81; 1933, pp.74, 84; 1934, pp.75, 85; 1939, pp.77, 90; 1943, pp.70, 80; 1951, pp.69, 80; Australian Law Journal (ALJ), Vol.25, p.403 (18 October 1951); Vol.49, pp.151-2 (March 1975); Attorney General's Department [III]; NRS 333, Letters received - Special Bundles, 1874-1984; [10/42917] Correspondence re appointment of King's Counsels, 1898-1941.
3. ALJ, Vol.25, p.403 (18 October 1951); Vol.46, p.478 (September 1972); Vol.49, pp.151-2 (March 1975); State Reports New South Wales Syd., Law Book Company, Vol.51 (1951); New South Wales Law Reports, Syd., Law Book Company, 1973, Vol.1, p.vii; 1975, Vol.1; New South Wales Law Almanac for 1980, op.cit., pp.56, 62.
4. D H Borchardt, Checklist of Royal Commissions Select Committees of Parliament and Boards of Inquiry, Commonwealth, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria, 1960-1980 and South Australia, 1970-1980, Bundoora, Borchardt Library, La Trobe University, 1986, p.184.
5. Joint Volume of Papers presented to the Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly, 1974-75, Syd., NSW Govt Printer, Vol.1, p.705.
6. Who's Who in Australia, op.cit.; Prisoners' Aid Association of New South Wales, Annual Report, Syd., The Association, 61st (1961/62) p.5; 62nd (1962/63) p.5; 63rd (1963/64) pp.2, 5, 7-8; 65th (1965/66) p.2; 66th (1966/67) p.2; 70th (1970/71) p.2; Australian Crime Prevention Council, History of the Council, http://www.apc.org.au/history.html (cited 19 January 2010); Supreme Court of New South Wales; NRS 6253, Miscellaneous papers on crime [Justice J H McClemens]; [6/4509] Papers relating to the Australian Crime Prevention, Correction and After-Care Council, national executive and New South Wales branch.
7. Who's Who in Australia, op.cit.; Supreme Court of New South Wales; NRS 6253, Miscellaneous papers on crime [Justice J H McClemens]; [6/4502.4] Papers relating to Australia's involvement in the United Nations, Division of Human Rights.
8. Who's Who in Australia, op.cit.; Richard JW D'Apice, 'McClemens, John Henry (1905-1975)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, op.cit.
10. ibid.; University of Sydney Calendar, op.cit., 1987, pp.465, 522, (cited 26 February 2009).
11. ALJ, Vol.49, p.700 (December 1975); Who's Who in Australia, op.cit.