Supreme Court of Tasmania


Supreme Court of Tasmania - Chief Justices

The Hon William John Ellis Cox, AC, RFD, ED (1995-2004):

William John Ellis Cox was born in Hobart on 1 April 1936. He was educated at St Virgil’s College, Hobart and Xavier College, Melbourne. He graduated from the University of Tasmania with a BA, LLB in 1960 and was admitted to the Bar, in the Supreme Court of Tasmania, in March 1960. Cox practiced at Dobson, Mitchell & Allport from 1961 to 1976, first as an employee and then as a partner. He was President of the Bar Association from 1973 until 1975. Cox was appointed a Magistrate in 1976 and then became Crown Advocate (which later came to be called the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions) for the next five years. He became Queen’s Counsel in 1978.

In 1982 Cox was appointed to the Supreme Court of Tasmania and in 1995 he became Chief Justice, a position which he held until 2004. He was also appointed Lieutenant Governor of Tasmania from 1996 to 2004. Cox made an important contribution to legal education in the State by being a member of the Tasmanian Board of Legal Education from 1988 to 1998 and thereafter serving as Director of the Centre for Legal Studies. Cox became Governor of Tasmania on 15 December 2004 and remained in the position until 2 April 2008. He was the second Tasmanian born Governor in the State’s history and the third Chief Justice to become Governor of Tasmania.

Cox was a member of the Army Reserve from 1954 to 1975. After retiring as an active member of the Army Reserve he was appointed Colonel Commandment of Artillery for the Tasmanian Defence Region, a position which he held until 1997.  Cox was the Deputy President of the Defence Force Disciplinary Appeal Tribunal from 1988 to 1995. In 1999 Cox was appointed as a Companion of the Order of Australia. He already held the Reserve Force Decoration (RFD) and the Army's Efficiency Decoration (ED) for service in the Royal Tasmania Regiment, including service in Vietnam. Cox was the National Chairman of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust from 2000 to 2004. He was also involved with St John Ambulance Australia as State President from 2002 to 2004 and in recognition of his contribution he was awarded the Knight of Grace in the Order of St John.