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  • 2014 survey on judge's published




    What do we know about our judges? Thanks to kiwisfirst.co.nz, a little more this week, with the release of its 2014 survey ranking of 63 judges.
    This is the second survey, four years after the legal blog’s first release.

    Publisher Vince Siemer says that despite the survey being anonymous, lawyers were generally more fearful this year following recent prosecutions of lawyers who expressed their honest opinions about judges. He says roughly 100 respondents participated.

    “Judges wield more power in New Zealand than members of Parliament, yet we know nothing about them, this is by design given that the appointment process is itself secret”, asserted Mr Siemer. He points to the Supreme Court scandal which erupted since his first survey as a reason why this lack of knowledge exacts a hefty, entirely hidden, cost on society.

    In 2010, Supreme Court Justice Bill Wilson resigned amid revelations of an undisclosed conflict of interest, presiding in a case where he owed the lawyer appearing before him a six figure sum. Emails between retired Court of Appeal Judge Sir Edmund Thomas and Bar President Dr James Farmer revealed the concerns the men had over being exposed, with Dr Famer expressing alarm that the scandal would likely bring down the Chief Justice if probed.

    Mr Siemer considers the lack of any such probe is indicative of a deeper problem with a court system he asserts is not only off the rails but insulated by judicial appointments of lawyers who are closely related or belong to the same clubs.

    Dr Farmer confirmed as much in the email exchange, saying to Sir Edmund he considered his friendship with the Chief Justice was more important than any concerns he had regarding “the system” and imploring the former judge not to talk about judicial impropriety.

    Concerns about the partiality of the judiciary are nothing new. Ten years ago a former chief district court judge who helped the Catholic Church with media inquiries relating to paedophile priest Alan Woodcock claimed he did not try to cover up Woodcock's previous sexual offending.

    The police said the role played by Judge Peter Trapski, and other aspects of the case,would go under a microscope, but no report was ever released

    Woodcock, ordained a priest in 1972, was convicted in 1979 of a sex offence against a 17-year-old male. Despite this, he was appointed a teacher at St Patrick's College in Upper Hutt where some of the offences took place.

    Judge Trapski, an old boy of St Patrick's, was consulted by the Catholic Church in 1994 when one of Woodcock's victims went to the media. A church document says Judge Trapski, who was chair of St Patrick's trust board at the time, advised the church to place "confidential material" about Woodcock into his employment file but within a separate envelope labelled "secret".

    Woodcock pleaded guilty to 21 charges relating to the abuse of 11 boys in the 1970s and 1980s .

    Comments 13 Comments
    1. golfa's Avatar
      golfa -
      Yoda, I think it's done in secret to protect the corrupt.
    1. flimflam's Avatar
      flimflam -
      It's great to see formal comment in the Media. It's great to see Media provide a challenging and independent view. We can't rely on TV one or Dom Post any longer - too carefully sanitised.

      Given the role that the family court plays in crafting our society it would be great to see these judges considered in the same way.

      Consideration must be;

      Gender bias ?
      Do they deliver precooked, predetermined judgements?
      Council for the child should be considered in the same way
      Court appoint Psycologists need to be considered too.
    1. Hugo's Avatar
      Hugo -
      The process of Judicial Appointments should not be done in secret. It should be completely transparent and public.

      To be done in secret is dodgy, I suspect it's more of a network than what we could ever imagine This is how can end up with a questionable calibre of Judge, for example Justice Gary Harrison, appointed 31 March 2014. Surely if this had been a transparent and open process, it would have been of wide public interest to be aware of very questionable behavior during his position as Registrar, Private Investigators and Security Guards Act - not suitable Judge material at all.

      Our Judges also need to be highly accountable for their decisions - they affect peoples lives, some have cost people their lives.
    1. Q. C.'s Avatar
      Q. C. -
      Quote Originally Posted by Hugo View Post
      The process of Judicial Appointments should not be done in secret. It should be completely transparent and public.

      To be done in secret is dodgy, I suspect it's more of a network than what we could ever imagine This is how can end up with a questionable calibre of Judge, for example Justice Gary Harrison, appointed 31 March 2014... .
      HUGO: If Judge Gary Harrison is related to Justice Rhys Harrison (of the Court of Appeal) his appointment by the Attorney-General is understandably. As, from what I understand, the A-G refuses to consent to Justice Rhys Harrison being investigated, and charged by Parliament, for alleged judicial corruption.

      Christopher Finlayson's (the Attorney-General) appointments to date are therefore understandable, if the allegations about his lack of integrity are true. As to him (as allegedly the most corrupt and powerful public servant in NZ) he has to stack the judiciary with judges who will block criminal charges against any judges, including Rhys Harrison.
    1. Hugo's Avatar
      Hugo -
      Quote Originally Posted by Q. C. View Post
      HUGO: If Judge Gary Harrison is related to Justice Rhys Harrison (of the Court of Appeal) his appointment by the Attorney-General is understandably. As, from what I understand, the A-G refuses to consent to Justice Rhys Harrison being investigated, and charged by Parliament, for alleged judicial corruption.

      Christopher Finlayson's (the Attorney-General) appointments to date are therefore understandable, if the allegations about his lack of integrity are true. As to him (as allegedly the most corrupt and powerful public servant in NZ) he has to stack the judiciary with judges who will block criminal charges against any judges, including Rhys Harrison.
      How could I find out if Judge Gary Harrison is related to Justice Rhys Harrison, or Ellie Harrison of Mc Elroys? I would like to know if there is a connection there. Also, who are or were the Directors of Shortland Chambers as of 2013 to present?
    1. Hugo's Avatar
      Hugo -
      Quote Originally Posted by Yoda View Post
      Do you think that this type of information should be widely available in New Zealand?

      What do you think about the alleged nepotisim and cronyism regarding the appointment of judges in the New Zealand?
      I most certainly think that this type of information should be widely available in New Zealand. Surely it should be, to enable transparency and eliminate possible bias in our Judicial System. I'm sure nepotism and cronyism regarding the appointment of Judges in New Zealand is alive and well - and this shouldn't be the case. What can we do about it? Talk about it and share information - it is of a wide public interest. Judges make decisions that affect the wide public. We, as the public should have confidence and trust in our Judicial System and the Judges that make decisions - affecting US..
    1. Q. C.'s Avatar
      Q. C. -
      Quote Originally Posted by Hugo View Post
      ... I'm sure nepotism and cronyism regarding the appointment of Judges in New Zealand is alive and well - and this shouldn't be the case. What can we do about it? ... Judges make decisions that affect the wide public...
      What can we do about it? Simple, petition Parliament asking it to remove the current Judicial Conduct Commissioner.

      Anyone want to draft it?
    1. Q. C.'s Avatar
      Q. C. -
      Quote Originally Posted by Yoda View Post
      I think the problem in New Zealand cannot be rectified by removing the current Judicial Conduct Commissioner. It is deeply rooted and entrenched in the psyche of the legal culture in New Zealand.
      The JCC is appointed by Parliament. There is no requirement under the Act for that person to be a Lawyer. Parliament in its patronising way naively assumes the A-G and Chief Justice recommend a person of integrity.

      All that is needed is for Parliament to understand, and realise, that a Lawyer has always been, and will be, recommended who can be relied on to protect the Judges no matter what. That is, a Lawyer who will not apply the Act nor use his powers.

      A JCC with actual integrity and independence, who by that qualification is unlikely to be a Lawyer, has all the power and authority to correct this evil amongst judges. Remember it is not errors by judges in their decision that is the problem, but deliberate unacceptable conduct by them of breaching their Judicial Oaths by falsifying their decisions as to the facts and/or issues (when they want to).

      If Parliament can be enlightened an honest JCC would be appointed (to replace the current dishonest one) and NZ's problem would disappear, as would a few judges.
    1. Q. C.'s Avatar
      Q. C. -
      Quote Originally Posted by Yoda View Post
      What do you think the law which grants the statutory-monopoly (exclusive privilege) for licensing lawyers in New Zealand to the New Zealand Law Society, a private entity, not accountable to the public?
      It demonstrates the stupidity of our Politicians, who do not understand that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    1. flimflam's Avatar
      flimflam -
      Too many snouts in the troff. Eventually the few remaining businesses here of any note will leave. Thinking people will continue to leave or simply work for cash, enjoy their lives and stay under the radar or join a gang- there is pleanty to choose from
    1. Hugo's Avatar
      Hugo -
      Quote Originally Posted by Yoda View Post
      Do you think that this type of information should be widely available in New Zealand?

      What do you think about the alleged nepotisim and cronyism regarding the appointment of judges in the New Zealand?
      I found part of the answer to my own question.... Ellie Harrison of Mc Elroys, ( indemnity insurance ) is the daughter of Court of Appeal Justice Rhys Harrison, who coincidentally worked for Mc Elroys years ago.

      Only question now.... Is Justice Gary Harrison related to Ellie and Rhys too?
    1. Q. C.'s Avatar
      Q. C. -
      Quote Originally Posted by Hugo View Post
      I found part of the answer to my own question.... Ellie Harrison of Mc Elroys, ( indemnity insurance ) is the daughter of Court of Appeal Justice Rhys Harrison, who coincidentally worked for Mc Elroys years ago.

      Only question now.... Is Justice Gary Harrison related to Ellie and Rhys too?
      It does not matter. As the Judicial Conduct Commissioner, in his 21 August 2015 Report to Parliament (just published), stated at paragraph 20 that:

      "The mention of corruption, in particular, again merits some explanation. In some instances, a complainant has alleged that a Judge has been corrupt. The Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner take such an allegation especially seriously. But their investigations have revealed nothing that even hints at corruption. Some complainants do, however, conclude that the fact that a Judge disagrees with their (to them) self-evidently logical contentions must, in itself, be clear evidence that there has been corruption at work. But in no instance, so far, has any supporting information been proffered - or revealed, upon examination - to support the assertion."


      Apparently no NZ judge is capable of being corrupt, on the proviso the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner investigate their alleged corruption. The complainants are all idiots.

      Or; is it that the Commissioner is hiding something from Parliament?
    1. Hugo's Avatar
      Hugo -
      Quote Originally Posted by Q. C. View Post
      It does not matter. As the Judicial Conduct Commissioner, in his 21 August 2015 Report to Parliament (just published), stated at paragraph 20 that:

      "The mention of corruption, in particular, again merits some explanation. In some instances, a complainant has alleged that a Judge has been corrupt. The Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner take such an allegation especially seriously. But their investigations have revealed nothing that even hints at corruption. Some complainants do, however, conclude that the fact that a Judge disagrees with their (to them) self-evidently logical contentions must, in itself, be clear evidence that there has been corruption at work. But in no instance, so far, has any supporting information been proffered - or revealed, upon examination - to support the assertion."


      Apparently no NZ judge is capable of being corrupt, on the proviso the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner investigate their alleged corruption. The complainants are all idiots.

      Or; is it that the Commissioner is hiding something from Parliament?

      It appears that given how small NZ is and how tight the, small judiciary is, impartiality, does exist, however not, and will never be acknowledged, until perhaps now, with social media, if enough of us start talking it will stoke up public interest in what appears to be New Zealand's dirty little secret.
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