Court of Appeal Justice John Wild

WILD, John Richard

Court of Appeal Justice John Wild


Professional Data:

2014 Judge Survey Score (1-10):  7.1   Ranking (out of 63):  54thJustice John Wild

Postion & Titles: QC
Judge of: Court of Appeal, since 2010.   PreviouslyHigh Court, Wellington, since 1988
Specializations and Professional Interests:  Secrecy, protection of judicial privilege and – did we said – secrecy.
Professional Comments: Justice John Wild is an example of the incestuous nature of court appointments in New Zealand.   He is the son of the late chief justice Sir Richard Wild and related to the late High Court judge Sir John White.  His cousin Douglas White also sits as a Court of Appeal judge beside him.’Wild’ is a fitting name.  At least in Wellington, Wild J is in a league of his own when it comes to reinventing the law.  When on the High Court a number of his decisions were overturned on appeal, but not always.  Love him or hate him, many of his fellow judges respect his family lineage due to his father’s legacy and admire his chutzpaw in advocating secret court sessions and subjugating the law in favour of judicial discretion (a view most quietly share), although few have the audacity to unabashedly and discriminately rule in the way John Wild J does.

Where they tend to bluster is when a Wild J decision comes out on trust law.  Wild J tends too often to demonstrate his Solomon-like swagger in pronouncing an “institutional constructive trust” exists, in order to contravene a legal trust because he has little understanding of trust law and wishes to compensate a person attacking a trust because Wild J either thinks they are morally right or because he finds reading the relevant bank statements too tedious or bothersome.

This recklessness carries over to Judge Wild’s personal life.  In the early 2000’s, Justice Wild was juggling so many mistresses that his indiscretions visibly impacted his bench performance and a quiet intervention was staged by his judicial colleagues.  His prolific philandering raises real concerns regarding female lawyers who appear before him, as it would be unreasonable to expect the judge or the lawyer to disclose their relationship.  More than a few wayward rulings by Wild J are suspected to be rooted in such personal familiarities.

In 2006, Justice Wild ruled that the National Party could not access the Court files in relation to a High Court Case stemming from Conservation Minister Chris Carter’s rejection of the Whangamata Marina, a ruling that was quickly turned over on appeal.

Justice Wild was the first judge who ordered the ‘Butcher Report’ – an investigative report that showed the NZ Army was negligent in a King Country bridge collapse that killed a man in 1994 – kept out of evidence.  This judicial impediment allowed the Army to submit its own report that whitewashed this important evidence (a sanitised report which Wild J happily allowed).

A number of years later (2008), John Wild J eschewed 100 year old established law in upholding a legally-flawed bankruptchy petition brought by the Crown Law office against Feilding lawyer Rob Moodie in a legal misadventure designed to collect on a costs award of prosecuting a contempt of court against him (and despite bankruptcy actions not used in any other democracy as a legal debt enforcement on solvent parties).

The year before, in a secret trial where the honourable Judge Wild ruled members of the accused’s own family and witnesses were prevented from being made aware of the mere existence of proceedings, Wild J found NZ author Anne Hunt guility of contempt for publishing facts of a case which again had been subject of a High Court suppression order (in her book ‘Broken Silence’).  In doing so Wild J went out of his way to protect Solicitor General David Collins QC – whose handwritten notations on the book manuscript left no doubt that Collins had approved the content for  publication.   In short order another High Court judge was compelled to revoke Wild J’s blanket gag orders.  Wild J’s guilty finding also was overturned by the Court of Appeal on appeal.  David Collins, who was a lawyer involved in the earlier court proceedings which were the subject of Hunt’s book, asked Hunt to write the book despite his intimate knowledge of the settlement agreement in the reported proceedings, which mandated confidentially.  Collins was never reprimanded for his role in instigating the affair.

Background / Education: Graduated from Victoria University of Wellington in 1969. He joined Bell Gully & Co in 1967 initially as a law clerk and then solicitor, and in 1969 was awarded the Timothy Cleary Memorial Prize. Justice Wild commenced practice at the independent bar in 1976 and was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1993. He joined the Council of the New Zealand Bar Association in 1992 and was its President when, in September 1998, he was appointed a judge of the High Court.
Degrees:  LLB Victoria, 1969
Admitted to the Bar: 1969
Company Involvements: Current director: Wild Woods Ltd, Wild Nominees Ltd

Personal Data

Born: 1947 Sex: Male
Married: 19 Children:
Interesting Relationships and Coincidences:  Be wary of Wild J’s personal company involvements and extremely close devotion to fellow QC members.  He is a judge largely because his father Sir Richard Wild was the ninth New Zealand Chief Justice.  His cousin Douglas White is a High Court judge sitting in Auckland.