Lawyer Lynching Labelled “Show Trial”

Lawyer Lynching Labelled

“Show Trial”

Political oppression against those who exercise their freedom to express critical views of judges is set to play out in Auckland District Courtroom 5.3 on 2 September 2013, where the New Zealand Law Society is seeking to have human rights barrister EvgenyOrlov debarred for privately criticising Court of Appeal Judge Rhys Harrison (pictured).

Judge Rhys Harrison
Judge Rhys Harrison

The prosecution has been five years in the making, has cost Society members almost $200,000 and is largely unknown to the public despite procedural appeals having gone to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

The saga began when Mr Orlov made a private complaint to the Judicial Conduct Commissioner concerning what he considered to be racially tainted views of Maoris and foreigners by then-High Court Judge Rhys Harrison. Though similar complaints have been made by others against Harrison, Mr Orlov’s complaint prompted then-Chief High Court Judge Anthony Randerson to write the Law Society on Court letterhead asking it to investigate Mr Orlov’s fitness as a lawyer.

The Law Society struggled but eventually came up with nine charges to levy against Mr Orlov. They all centre on “false and scandalous charges” Orlov allegedly made about Harrison in his JCC complaint.

Harrison and Randerson JJ both currently both sit on the New Zealand Court of Appeal.

In a mocking and meandering press release this week, Mr Orlov called the debacle a ‘show trial’, noting the Law Society intends to call no witnesses, while preventing him from calling Harrison or either of the two Judicial Conduct Commissioners as witnesses. Orlov draws a comparison with the 1899 Privy Council judgment ofMcLeod v St Aubyn which found; ” Contempt of Court may be committed by publication of scandalous matter respecting the Court after adjudication as well as pending a case before it. In England committals for such contempts have become obsolete: in small colonies consisting principally of coloured populations they may still be necessary in proper cases”.

Even for a colonial backwater, no witnesses and allowing no cross-examination seem a strange court process to prove ‘false and scandalous’ criticisms sufficient for a legal lynching.

Pertinently, Mr Orlov included a link in his press release to a New Zealand Law Society press release which publicly criticised a conviction in Fiji for quoting a report critical of its courts as “a serious restriction on the right to free speech”. In contrast, NZ Society members’ criticisms in Orlov’s prosecution have been few; generally directed at the financial costs being incurred despite few members knowing what the ‘false and scandalous’ allegations are at the core of the prosecution conducted in their names.

Another lawyer similarly attacked by the New Zealand Law Society sees the current policies of the Law Society being representative of broad apathy in the legal community which has turned to fear. He intoned, ‘ Feareverything, do nothing and, above all, be quiet’ is the adopted credo of lawyers in New Zealand.

The Orlov trial raises broader natural justice concerns by preventing inquiry (as scandalous) into the validity of a complaint he has made against a powerful State actor – a complaint which is not unique. Mr Orlov alleged Harrison J sanctioned Maori children being removed from their parents without hearing – oppressively awarding costs against him personally in violation of UN conventions for representing the parents in a claim alleging the Crown acted without due process. In another case, Harrison J ordered a known paedophile to be the custodial parent where the mother was a Russian bride being deported as a result of her marriage breakup. Investigate Magazine earlier on this misconduct, ” The most stunning aspect of the whole story, however, is why on earth a man with Paul Copeland’s psychiatric history, a man who raped his own sister and tried to murder his wife with a bow and arrow, a man who enjoyed killing cats in the cruellest possible ways – why such a man would be allowed anywhere near a child“.

Judge Harrison’s brother Geoff Harrison was lawyer for that child.

Judge Harrison also criticised Mr Orlov for not being trained as a lawyer in New Zealand, seemingly justifying his complaint Harrison is xenophobic without any explanation from the Judge for this worrisome judicial comment.

Dr Frank Deliu, a U.S. and N.Z. trained lawyer, expresses similar views of Harrison and has provided the Judicial Conduct Commissioner seven sentencing decisions of Harrison J which cite their “host country” and crimes against “people of New Zealand” as factors in sentencing foreign-born New Zealanders. Dr Deliu is also being prosecuted by the NZ Law Society on the recommendation of Judge Randerson, although the charges are still being determined.

Mr Orlov’s press release invites interested parties to attend the “show trial” which is set to begin at 10 am. With no witnesses and a charge of making false allegations, he has billed it as colonial justice at its finest and asked attendees to accordingly wear black tie and evening dress.