Delays by Judicial Conduct Commissioner subject of court challenge

Barrister Francisc Deliu has filed a claim in the Auckland High Court against the Office of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner, seeking writs of mandamus directing the JCC to address a complaint against District Court Judge David Harvey (pictured) filed more than a year ago and the District Court to produce the court transcript which Mr Deliu says supports his allegations of judicial misconduct.

The claim also asks for a ruling that both have acted unlawfully by failing to properly investigate the complaint and produce the relevant transcript.

The five page claim alleges the JCC failed his statutory duty to progress complaints promptly by sitting on the judge’s response for over 9 months and by refusing to request the court transcript on the basis he did not want to be seen to “assist” the complainant with his complaint.

The JCC has the statutory power to obtain court transcripts in his investigations and does so as a matter of routine. After initially agreeing to provide a copy, the District Court registrar reneged, stating in a recent letter that no transcript would now be provided. No reason was given.

Despite a statutory requirement to promptly process complaints alleging judicial misconduct and an amendment to the prevailing legislation doubling the JCC’s human resources, the Office of the JCC has several complaints as much as 3 years old. Backlogs of complaints increased 600% in the three years to 2010. The next annual report from the JCC is due in August.

Judge Harvey has been the subject of several past and current complaints and was personally sued in 1994 in a case which Harvey won on appeal on the grounds of judicial immunity. Two current complaints against Harvey concern his combative demeanour, including personal threats to counsel without provocation.