Auckland High Court Justice Tim Brewer
Professional Data –
2014 Judge Survey Score (1-10): 8.4 Ranking (out of 62): 3rd
|Postion & Titles:
|| Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit
||High Court, Auckland Appointed 2010
|Specializations and Professional Interests:
||Former Crown prosecutor – Taranaki connections
||No-nonsense judge who, while new on the bench, differs from his cohorts to the extent that he is punctual and will not hesitate to proceed with a matter if counsel is late.One of an abudance of former Crown prosecutors appointed to the bench. Short on personal rights, stauch on law and order but has been surprisingly fair since his recent appointment when it comes to State interests given his background.
|Background / Education:
||Justice Timothy Brewer graduated LL.B (Honours, 1st class) from Victoria University in 1979. He was admitted to the Bar in 1980. Between 1980 and 1987 he practised predominantly commercial and property law at Govett Quilliam, New Plymouth.Justice Brewer was then appointed New Plymouth Crown Solicitor, an appointment he held from 1988-2010. From 1990-2010 he was the senior litigation partner in the firm which became Auld Brewer Mazengarb & McEwen. From 1997-2001 he was a part-time Commissioner of the Law Commission.As a Crown lawyer, Justice Brewer was behind the unlawful cover-up of NZ Army culpability in the 1994 Te Rata (Berryman) bridge collapse which resulted in the wrongful death of beekeeper Kenneth Richards. Brewer had the engineer’s investigative report (the Butcher Report) into the collapse materially altered to expunge reference to the poor construction by the NZ Army just eight years earlier.Justice Brewer joined the Territorial Force of the New Zealand Army in 1976; appointed a member of the Courts Martial Panel of Advocates in 2001; Judge-Advocate from 2004-2009 and a Judge of the Court Martial of New Zealand from 2009. He retired in 2009 as Director-General Reserve Forces with the rank of Brigadier.Justice Brewer was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2003.
||LLB (Honours, 1st class) Victoria University, 1979
|Admitted to the Bar:
|Interesting Relationships and Coincidences:
|| Miscellaneous: Daughter Victoria is a solicitor in Taranaki (see article below).
The following is from an interview with his local rag when Justice Brewer was appointed to the High Court:“Justice Timothy Brewer was given just minutes to decide if he would become a judge in the High Court of New Zealand.
Justice Brewer was in New Plymouth on Friday to preside over a ceremony to admit seven young lawyers to the bar.
Before the ceremony, he revealed that one Saturday morning about seven weeks ago he was eating breakfast when the phone call came from the Attorney-General, Christopher Finlayson, offering him the Auckland position.
“He called home and I was just eating my toast and he said, `we have an appointment in Auckland, yes or no’.”
The answer was `yes’ and in less than 10 days, Taranaki’s Crown solicitor, Tim Brewer, was sworn in, resplendent in “The Reds” the ceremonial dress of a 14th Century courtier, to become the most junior of the country’s 33 High Court judges.
While interviews with High Court judges are rare, Justice Brewer was agreeable to sharing with the Taranaki Daily News his initial insight into the new job.
Taranaki’s former Crown solicitor for 22 years and senior partner at Auld Brewer Mazengarb and McEwan says his life is now fully emersed in law.
“The new job is certainly very interesting ? and a great change from private practice.”
Gone are the worries of dealing with administration, clients, partners and staff.
“I’m not running a business and I can devote as much time to a task as is needed to get it right. I’m enjoying it.”
The days are long.
“The first impression is that it is very hard work. All of the judges work 10 to 12 hour days pretty much all of the time. But all I have to do is practise law. It’s much less stressful.”
He has been surprised to find himself in court nearly every day and facing a wide variety of cases, most of them civil, and covering all facets of life.
“The law involves every activity humans do. If you have a dispute it can find its way to the High Court.
“In the five weeks in the job I’ve dealt with immigration issues ? whether someone is entitled to refugee status, I had to decide if a multimillion-dollar nightclub went ahead, decide how to split a million-dollar marriage property settlement between husband and wife, decide on bail appeals, sentence a man for raping children in the 1980s, preside over an attempted murder trial and a trial involving the Auckland underworld.”
As a result, he is grateful that his background as a Crown solicitor gave him experience across both criminal and civil practice.
Justice Brewer says in the short time, he has also become more sensitive to the criticism meted out to sentencing judges.
“I think people don’t understand how judges sentence. You read in the paper and see on TV lots of criticism of sentences and now I am a judge it affects you more.
“But judges can’t just wave their hand and say you are a bad person, I’m going to keep you in jail until you die. A judge has to sentence according to the law. It takes a lot of time working out the law in the case.”
His former life has also helped maintain control during sentencings which are invariably charged with emotion. The judge was the one person in court whose role is to remain dispassionate and without emotion as others succumb.
Justice Brewer describes his sentencing of a man to 10 years’ jail after he pleaded guilty to raping nine girls 30 years ago.
The victims had stood to read out their statements to the court and told how their lives had been affected “as though it had happened yesterday”, he said.
A man who came to court with his teenage children to support the accused and ask that he not be jailed, had broken down when he heard Justice Brewer summarise what his friend had done.
“He was a big tough guy and he burst into tears.”
With that, he and the whole family rose and left the court.
“For the first time he realised what had happened.”
While not immune to emotion himself, he is grateful for his 30 years in practice at the bar and experience as a Crown solicitor that allows him to deal with it.
In his former life as a one-star general, the then Brigadier Brewer last year travelled to Afghanistan on behalf of the New Zealand Defence Force. Now, as Justice Brewer it is off-limits for him to comment about the recent death of a New Zealand soldier.
His family of six is now mulling the difficult decision about when to sell their New Plymouth home of 20 years.
He is currently renting a flat in Auckland across from the court. “The whole flat is the size of my living room at home. So at some point we will sell the house and move to Auckland. I could be in Auckland for 20 years.”
Because of his close connection with the Taranaki justice system, Justice Brewer will not sit on the bench in the High Court in New Plymouth for about a year.
Until then, his circuit will include Auckland, Whangarei, Rotorua, Hamilton and Gisborne.”
Following in Her Father’s Footsteps
Any chance Victoria Brewer had of defending criminals instead of prosecuting them disappeared around the family dinner table.
The daughter of Taranaki Crown solicitor Tim Brewer, Miss Brewer (24) was admitted to the Bar by Justice Paul Heath in the High Court at New Plymouth yesterday.
Following firmly in her father’s legal footsteps, Miss Brewer will take up her first job at the Crown’s prosecuting office in Wellington next month.
She laughed off any suggestion she would have headed in a different direction from her father and chosen the defence chair in the court room.
“No, I think I was too biased growing up in a prosecutor’s house,” she said.
While quick to say he was “of course” proud of his daughter’s decision, Mr Brewer quickly added that he thought his eldest child was also brave in her move to the capital.
“The last member of our family who was a lawyer that was prosecuting in Wellington was in the 1840s, William Brewer, and he quarrelled with the defence lawyer who shot and killed him in a duel behind Parliament buildings,” he said.
Miss Brewer said her father did his best to steer her away from criminal law as he quietly promoted the worth of banking law. “I just like the idea that you have a public service role really. You are doing something for the community, not just out there on your own money-making career.”