Rose Heilbron


Rose Heilbron

Dame Rose Heilbron, DBE, QC, (19 August 1914 - 8 December 2005) was one of the outstanding defence barristers of the post-war period in the UK, whose career included many 'firsts' for a woman - she was the first woman to win a scholarship to Gray's Inn, the first woman to be appointed King's Counsel, the first to lead in a murder case, the first woman Recorder, the first woman judge to sit at the Old Bailey and the first woman Treasurer of Gray's Inn.

Early life

Heilbron was born in Liverpool, the daughter of Jewish hotelier Max Heilbron. She attended The Belvedere School and Liverpool University, where she became one of the first two women to gain a first class honours degree in law, in 1935. She was awarded the Lord Justice Holker scholarship at Gray's Inn in 1936, and she became one of only two women to hold a master of laws degree in 1937. Two years later she was called to the bar, joining the Northern Circuit.

Career

In 1945, she married the Dublin-born Dr Nathaniel Burstein, whom she had met at court. He became a consultant at a Liverpool hospital, and there is little doubt that the availability of medical knowledge was a great help to her in some cases.

By 1946, Heilbron had appeared in 10 murder trials, and in 1949, she was one of the first two female King's Counsel to serve at the English Bar (the other was Helena Normanton)). She became something of a household name, especially in her home city, when, in 1949-50, she became the first woman to lead in an English murder case, when she defended the gangster George Kelly, accused of shooting dead the deputy manager of the Cameo cinema in Liverpool, whoch became know as The Cameo Murder. He is reputed to have said he wasn't "having a Judy defend him", but he later praised her for her painstaking defence, which also led to her being named the "Daily Mirror"'s "Woman of the Year". She was unable to save Kelly from the gallows, but the Court of Appeal quashed his conviction as unsafe in 2003.

Heilbron's successes in the first half of the 1950s included the defence of four men accused of hanging a boy during a burglary (she was able to show the death had been an accident) and of Louis Bloom, a solicitor from Hartlepool who was accused of murdering his mistress in his office. With a series of high-profile trials, Dame Rose became something of celebrity, and her exploits were reported as news: attending a Bar conference in the U.S., taking the salute as honorary Colonel of the East Lancashire Battalion of the WRAC, or becoming the first woman in Liverpool to wear a calf-length evening dress.

Heilbron was appointed as Recorder for Burnley in November 1956, the first appointment of a woman as Recorder, although not the first time one had sat. In 1957, she was the first woman to sit as a Commissioner of Assize. Although Elizabeth Lane was appointed the first female judge in the County Court in 1962 and of the High Court in 1965, Heilbron was appointed as the first female judge to sit at the Old Bailey on 4 January 1972. She became leader of the Northern Circuit in 1973 but then followed Lane as the second woman High Court judge in 1974. She was assigned to the Family Division, and created a DBE.

Heilbron chaired a committee to consider reform of rape laws in 1975. The committee's subsequent report recommended that the identity of rape complainants should be kept secret, and that the defence should be limited in its ability to cross-examine the complainant about their sexual history in an effort to attack their character. In 1976, she was made an honorary fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, where her daughter (Hilary Nora Burstein Heilbron, born 1949, who herself became a QC in 1987) had been educated.

Heilbron was presiding judge of the Northern Circult from 1979 to 1982, and was Treasurer of Gray's Inn in 1985. She retired from judicial office in 1988.

It has been said that Heilbron's rapid rise benefited from the fact that so many men were in the armed forces during her first six years as a barrister. Without the Second World War, there is little doubt that she would have had greater difficulty with the prejudices endemic in the legal profession at that time; but her continued rapid rise once the war ended were evidence of her skill, dedication and hard work. Nevertheless, it seems likely that a man with her record would have achieved judicial office earlier, and would have been promoted to the Court of Appeal.

Her hobbies included golf and walking, and she was a keen member of Soroptimist, the worldwide organisation for women in management and professions, working to advance human rights and the status of women.

References

* [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/12/10/db1001.xml&sSheet=/portal/2005/12/10/ixportal.html Obituary] ("The Telegraph", 10 December 2005)
* [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,60-1922438,00.html Obituary] ("The Times", December 13, 2005)
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/gender/story/0,,1665885,00.html Obituary] ("The Guardian", 13 December 2005)


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Rose Heilbron — Dame Rose Heilbron QC DBE (* 19. August 1914 in Liverpool; † 8. Dezember 2005) war eine britische Juristin, die sowohl eine der beiden ersten weiblichen Kronanwälte als auch eine der ersten Richterinnen am High Court of Justice wurde, einem der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Heilbron (surname) — Heilbron is a variation of the Jewish surname Heilprin and may refer to: * Ian Heilbron, British chemist * Brently Heilbron, (born 1976), American satirist * David Heilbron (1762 1847), Dutch physician * Rose Heilbron (1914 2005) British * Vivien …   Wikipedia

  • HEILBRON, DAME ROSE — (1914–2005), English lawyer. Born in Liverpool, Rose Heilbron was admitted to the bar in 1939 and rapidly established a reputation as a criminal advocate of exceptional ability. In 1949, she was made a king s counsel and in 1956 she was made… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Heilbron — ist der Name von Friedrich Heilbron, deutscher Staatsbeamter und Diplomat John Heilbron, US amerikanischer Wissenschaftshistoriker Rose Heilbron (1914–2005), britische Juristin einer Siedlung in der südafrikanischen Provinz Freistaat, siehe… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Louis Rose — (March 24 1807 ndash; February 14 1888) is a San Diego, California, USA pioneer.HistoryLouis Rose was born in Germany and came to San Diego in 1850, via New Orleans, Louisiana and Texas. He traveled to California with Judge James W. Robinson s… …   Wikipedia

  • Golden Rose Synagogue (Lviv) — Infobox religious building building name= Golden Rose Synagogue caption= location=flagicon|Ukraine Lviv, Ukraine geo= religious affiliation=Orthodox Judaism district= functional status=Destroyed in 1941 leadership= website= architecture… …   Wikipedia

  • The Cameo Murder — On the evening of 19 March, 1949, the Cameo cinema in Liverpool, England, was the scene of a brutual double murder which led, eventually to a miscarriage of justice. The cinema manager, Leonard Thomas was counting the day s takings assisted by… …   Wikipedia

  • LAWYERS — Introduction Although Jews were noted advocates at Brighegua near Toledo, Spain, as early as 1436, and though converted Jews were prominent lawyers in South America in the 17th century, Jews were generally prevented from practicing law in most of …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • 1972 — This article is about the year 1972. Millennium: 2nd millennium Centuries: 19th century – 20th century – 21st century Decades: 1940s  1950s  1960s  – 1970s –  1980s   …   Wikipedia

  • List of Ashkenazi Jews — This is an , which may never be able to satisfy certain standards for completeness. Revisions and additions are welcome. Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim are Jews descended from the medieval Jewish communities of the… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.