McGRATH, John Joseph
Supreme Court Justice John McGrath
|Postion & Titles:||QC, Formerly Solicitor General|
|Judge of:||Supreme Court, since 2005|| Court of Appeal from
|Specializations and Professional Interests:||Justice McGrath is a keen accumulator of gossip, probably as a result of his political roles.|
|Professional Comments:||John McGrath J appointed himself to the Court of Appeal bench from his political appointment of NZ Solicitor General, with the quiet approval the Attorney General at the time.
McGrath J is smart, legally skilled and conservative on law and order issues. Justice McGrath has no reluctance to choose ‘order’ over ‘law’ where he sees a conflict between the two. He has more troublingly shown a willingness to contravene law to maintain order and protect fellow judges who commit offences (specifics below). Politically manipulative and stauch protector of the status quo.
As a Jurist, McGrath J has not shown much regard for individual rights or transparency in litigation. McGrath J considers rights must often take a back seat in a civil and orderly society, and has consistently demonstrated this in his rulings. In specific cases:
None of this is surprising. Justice McGrath, when Solicitor General, proved masterful in concealing judicial corruption and criminal conduct in New Zealand. One of the most notorious cases is of former District Court Judge Michael Lance QC, who jumped jurisdictions to preside over the prosecution of his son Simon’s legal partner for perverting the course of justice in the 1990’s. In the judge alone trial, Judge Lance acquitted the accused despite audio phone recordings of the lawyer attempting to blackmail the lead investigator in a drug distribution case. When the police found out about the judge’s untoward and undisclosed relationship, McGrath refused Police requests to prosecute the judge, claiming it was not in the public interest. McGrath then sealed the prosecution file. Judge Lance went on to wreak havoc in a number of cases and, in 2010, was himself acquitted of criminal wilful damage (in a judge alone trial) after repeated complaints of the Judge “keying” cars which parked in front of his Brown’s Bay condominium.
In August 2012, Justice John McGrath wrote submissions on behalf of the entire New Zealand judiciary, lobbying Parliament to not pass the Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill which would require judges to maintain a register of their financial interests – to guard against conflicts of interest. Justice McGrath argued the Bill was unnecessary, stating no evidence exists of judicial corruption and, therefore, “prevention of corruption provides no justification for the establishment of a register of judges’ pecuniary interests in New Zealand.” McGrath went on to claim to Parliament that the “open and transparent court processes” provide adequate protection against judicial corruption notwithstanding a prohibition imposed by the Supreme Court Registrar against anyone accessing public records at New Zealand’s highest court – a prohibition which is currently the subject of legal challenge before the Supreme Court (SC59/2014).
|Background / Education:||Graduated LLM from Victoria University of Wellington in 1968. He was as a partner in Buddle Findlay, in Wellington, until he moved to the separate bar in 1984. He became Queen’s Counsel in 1987 and he was Solicitor-General between 1989 and 2000. Justice McGrath was appointed to the Court of Appeal in July 2000 and to the Supreme Court in May 2005.|
|Degrees:||LLM Victoria, 1968|
|Admitted to the Bar:||1968|
Wellington, New Zealand
Christine Ann Swallow
|Children:||2 ( Lucy Caroline b.1972, Thomas James b.1974)|
|Interesting Relationships and Coincidences:|