The Quarter Century from Morrison to Lett
On 15 March 1929, Hunter died in St. Joseph's Hospital in Victoria after a long illness, and a new chief justice had to be found to take the place of that widely admired but troublesome figure. On 9 April 1929, Morrison, the senior puisne judge, was chosen for the task. It was a relatively quick appointment but, more important, it represented the second occasion in the history of the court (if Begbie's statutory change of title is not counted) when one of its puisne judges had been selected to become its chief justice.
During the twenty-five years Morrison had already spent on the bench, his extra-judicial services had been in much demand; in that time he had successfully executed five Royal Commissions under the Public Inquiries Act. Although frail in appearance, he was a person of much energy and neither his physical nor his mental well-being showed any sign of being diminished when he took over the direction of the court. It is the greater pity that Morrison has not come down to us as a great judge or as an eminent chief justice comparable in stature, say, with Begbie. He certainly had attributes that could have led him to greatness, and they might have done so had the complexity of character that would sully his judicial reputation in the minds of the many lawyers he offended not been superimposed on them.
During the thirteen years in which Morrison was chief justice, eight new judges were appointed to the court. Some had long careers, and are well and favourably remembered; others were less fortunate.