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Web publisher alleges judges abuses repeat history

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  • Web publisher alleges judges abuses repeat history

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    No one believed at the time it was happening, but it became evident that hundreds of New Zealanders had been denied their rights of appeal when, in 2002, the Privy Council determined in Taito v Queen, the New Zealand Court of Appeal had engaged in systemic abuses of due process. Fa’Afete Taito was first named appellant (of many) in that defining appeal.

    In 2011, in the landmark Supreme Court decision Chapman v Attorney General, another one of those affected appellants lost any consequent right for damages, with the new court declaring judges are exempt from remedial compliance with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. The Court ruling made comment that rights abuses by judges are less likely since the Supreme Court was created in 2004.

    Enter Vince Siemer, publisher of the legal blog kiwisfirst, who may have more in common with Taito than spending time in a New Zealand prison. He has been labelled a “vexatious litigant” by the Attorney-General and even a “shithead” by retired Court of Appeal Justice Sir Ted Thomas. Like a red rag to a bull, Siemer has made it his life mission to prove New Zealanders are being hoodwinked by our top judges and said “Facts and law never get in the way of a good New Zealand court judgment”.

    Mr Siemer is in court again this week, being sued by the Attorney General in an attempt to have him permanently barred from filing proceedings in the courts. This year alone he has filed at least a dozen appeals to the Court of Appeal. Not one has been allowed a hearing. Most are held up by security for costs orders. Five have been refused filing by the Registrar.

    That is not to say the Attorney General will have an easy time of it. Mr Siemer is being defended by prominent human rights lawyer Tony Ellis. The Attorney General has also pleaded cases as vexatious and an abuse of process that have since proved not so.

    One case is a 10 year claim he had against his former lawyer, the late Robert Fardell QC, for breach of fiduciary duty. As part of his bankruptcy, the Official Assignee made extensive submissions to the High Court asserting the claim was “hopeless” and should never have been brought. However, Siemer won a judicial review against the OA and Fardell’s estate offered $50,000 to settle.

    This case should have been brought to court 5 years ago but an extravagant $100,000 security for costs demand effectively halted proceedings. This Fardell claim and an equally protracted legal battle with Auckland Accountant Michael Stiassny featured prominently in the Attorney General’s prosecution.

    In response, Mr Siemer has committed to filing numerous recalls and appeals on behalf of himself and others challenging orders made by court staffers which limit appeal rights to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, its this exercise of judicial powers he asserts is unlawful. In this respect, he seems to be leading a charge against abuses similar to those exposed by the Privy Council decision in Taito 11 years ago.

    This week he appealed to the Supreme Court against Court of Appeal Judge John Wild’s unrecorded ruling he had no right of appeal against the Judge’s previous order refusing to accept an appeal for filing. Despite Judge Wild’s order, a staffer returned the application and confirmed by email it no longer is part of the court file.

    Few lawyers are likely to know much of this is occurring. But this is nothing new. The public is still not generally aware of the judicial abuses which occurred in as many as 1,500 appeals in the Taito era. Perhaps things are not as bad now as we failed to realise then. Only time will tell whether Siemer shares anything more with Taito than prison time.
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