Justice HAMMOND, Robert Grant
Currently PRESIDENT OF THE LAW COMMISSION
|Postion & Titles:||Former Dean of Law at Waikato **Moved to President of the Law Commission end of 2010 ***|
|Judge of:||Court of Appeal, since 2003||Formerly High Court Judge, Hamilton|
|Specializations and Professional Interests:||Academic|
|Professional Comments:||Justice Grant Hammond’s Court revolves around tea breaks, which can be a little disconcerting when cross-examination gets interesting, but he is one of the better judges in recent memory when it comes to knowledge of the law and desire to be fair – although his academic background (“those who can’t do, teach”) has created many blind spots in his approach and deficiencies in his character.Generally moderate and conscientious in his equitable application of the law and an advocate of civil liberties relative to the current ultra-conservative make up of the Court. Hammond J has nonetheless been influenced over the years by a Court that has traditionally emphasized protection of the Court and its members over transparent and open administration of justice and equal rights. Particularly protective of the public image that judges can do no wrong. When writing opinions overturning lower court rulings, Justice Hammond will take great pains to deflect blame for the incorrect judgment away from the judge – preserving the unassailable image of all judges by using such phrases as ‘ the lower court judge was inadvertently drawn into error’ and ‘counsel may have better availed the result and judge by not bringing undue complexity into the proceeding.’In 2010, Justice Hammond authored what can best be described as a commentary on the principals which ought to guide judicial disqulification (a serious problem in New Zealand). The book – Judicial Recusal: Principles, Process and Problems – at 200 pages, is intellectually challenging but lacks the legal depth which the subject matter requires. So much so that the foreword by Sir Stephen Sedley contains the most valuable information word for word. Nonetheless, the book covers three important areas: Unconscious bias, Judicial misconduct in court and Prior viewpoints.
Given Justice Hammond’s own sordid history in this area since publication of this book – he has been the subject of multiple misconduct complaints and the Court of Appeal twice in 2011 refused to release transcripts where judicial bias or conflict by Hammond had been alleged – one cannot help but cringe at the hypocrisy when reading it. Still, it is useful and interesting reading as to what impartial justice should look like. Favorite part: Where Hammond pontificates that judges should never be personally offended by a lawyer’s application they recuse themself. For a judge who is offended by – as one politico put it – “any criticism real or perceived”, many of his colleagues cannot help but think the judge was writing satirically.
|Background / Education:||Graduated from the University of Auckland and the University of Illinois. He was a partner in the Hamilton law firm Tompkins Wake & Co. He was then a Professor of Law in American and Canadian Universities, and Chairman of a Canadian law reform agency before becoming Dean of Law at the University of Auckland. He was appointed a judge of the High Court in 1992 and to the Court of Appeal in January 2004.|
|Admitted to the Bar:||19|
|Company Involvements:||Current director of Samantha Holdings Ltd|
Nanette Alice Moreau
|Interesting Relationships and Coincidences:|