Former chief justice of the Irish Supreme Court to speak at the WFU School of Law Hooding Ceremony on May 20

The Honorable Mr. Justice John L. Murray, former chief justice of the Irish Supreme Court, will be the speaker for the Wake Forest University School of Law Hooding Ceremony on Sunday, May 20.

Hooding will be held at 1:45 p.m. in Wait Chapel followed by the Dean’s Reception at 3 p.m. at the Forsyth Country Club.

Graduation exercises are scheduled for 9 a.m. on Monday, May 21, at Hearn Plaza. Tickets are required for guests. Learn more about hooding and graduation here.1 

John Murray

John Murray

Murray served as chief justice of the Irish Supreme Court from 2004 until his retirement in 2011.  The chief justice functions as president of the high court which consists of at least seven ordinary members. The Irish Constitution allows for judicial review of all legislation.   

Born in Limerick, Murray received his education at Crescent College, Rockwell College, County Tipperary, and University College of Dublin. Between 1966 and 1967, Murray led the Union of Students in Ireland.  After he was admitted to practice at the bar of Ireland, Murray had a successful law practice, dealing with commercial, civil, and constitutional law. 

Murray worked as attorney general to the Fianna Fail government beginning in 1982 and was appointed by Prime Minister Charles Haughey.  He served until December of 1982 during his first term. Murray’s next term as attorney general extended from March 11, 1987, to Sept. 25, 1991.  Notably, he refused to allow Father Patrick Ryan extradition to Britain on explosives charges associated with the Provisional IRA in 1988.  Due to excessive media coverage and comments by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Parliament, Murray argued that Ryan would not be given a fair trial.

Murray’s ascension to the Supreme Court of Ireland began in 1991, when he started working as a member on the Court of Justice of European Communities in Luxembourg.

During this time, he worked as chairperson on the Anti-Fraud Committee of the European Central Bank and as chairperson on the Ethical Committee of the European Commission.  His eight years of service ended when Murray was appointed to the Supreme Court as chief justice in 2004. 

Murray became implicated in a controversy surrounding an amendment proposal allowing the remuneration of judges to be reduced in parallel to the remuneration of public servants in government employment.  He published a 12-page critique, collaborating with Nicholas Kearns, president of the high court, which was posted on Court Services website.  At the request of the government of Ireland, the post was redacted shortly thereafter.  Murray reached mandatory retirement in 2011 from his position as chief justice, but still remains an active and esteemed member of the Supreme Court.

In 1969, Murray married Gabriel Walsh, daughter of Brian Walsh, a former Supreme Court judge. They have two children, Catriona and Brian.