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Murray Gleeson - The Smiler
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Murray Gleeson - The Smiler

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Published May 2014 (Federation Press)
ISBN: 9781862879607. Hard Cover, 296 pages.

By Michael Pelly

Courtroom tactician, devastating in reply, intimidating and intense. Murray Gleeson has been described as many things, but his grim work persona gave him the label that stuck – The Smiler.

Born in a small country town in NSW, Gleeson became the nation’s top barrister and its leading judge. In a legal career spanning over 50 years, he had a ringside seat for political, legal and social events that shaped Australia – the final separation from Mother England, legalised abortion, the dismissal of the Whitlam government, the Tasmanian Dams Case, the Fine Cotton substitution, the scandalous attack on Justice Michael Kirby, the war on terrorism, prisoners’ right to vote and the detention of refugees.

The Smiler draws on more than 100 interviews with the man himself and his family, friends and judicial colleagues, including those who sat with him on the High Court. It is an unprecedented insight into a legend of the Australian legal system.


1.   Early Life 
2.   Leaving Home 
3.   The Rise of Leo… and Murray 
4.   The University Years 
5.   Learning the Law 
6.   On the Job 
7.   A Partner for Life 
8.   Stress Takes Its Toll 
9.   No Looking Back 
10. Faith and Fidelity 
11.  Ritual and Routine 
12.  From the Bottom of the Harbour 
13.  Breaking Away 
14.  A Party Man? 
15.  In the Limelight 
16.  In the Backroom 
17.  Get Gleeson 
18.  The Sexiest Man I Ever Met 
19.  An Extinct Argument 
20.  Blink and Miss 
21.  Follow the Leader 
22.  The Smiler 
23.  To the Bench 
24.  Street’s Red Hot Potato 
25.  Getting Down to Business 
26.  Sitting in Judgment 
27.  No Limit to Evil 
28.  Speaking his Mind 
29.  On High 
30.  A Helping Hand 
31.  The Home Front 
32.  Settling In 
33.  High and Mighty 
34.  The PR Guy 
35.  The Vibe 
36.  A Liberal in Disguise? 
37.  Murderers and Terrorists 
38.  Who’s Responsible? 
39.  A Court Scandalised 
40.  Still in the Game



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