New Zealand Has Corrupt Free Courts - Survey Says
Posted On: Tuesday, 12 July 2011


12 July 2011
The latest edition of the New Zealand Law Society's newsletter Law Talk trumpets New Zealand Courts third place ranking in the recent survey of the World Justice Project, behind Norway and Sweden.  What is designed to be an annual survey currently comprises 66 nations and anticipates covering more than 100 countries within 3 years.  New Zealand signed up to participate in the survey early last year.

The WJP is a U.S. based non-profit whose stated mission is to assess government accountability, whether laws are clear, equitably applied and rights driven, and whether access to justice is open to all and served by advocates and judges who are competent, efficient and reflective of the community they serve.

For those with personal experience in the New Zealand courts, it is not surprising the ranking is a result of the WJP allowing the New Zealand judiciary to "marked its own papers".  Anglican Bishop Richard Randerson fronted the New Zealand survey and the government vetted survey participants.  

Apparently unbeknownst to the U.S. organization, Bishop Randerson is the brother of Court of Appeal Justice Anthony Randerson.  Justice Randerson repeatedly covered up corruption by his fellow judges when Chief High Court Judge.  In 2005, kiwisfirst broke the story that Justice Randerson covered up Justice Judith Potter ruling in favour of her brother-in-law in a case where she failed to minimally disclose to the opposition her family relationship.  Randerson stated at the time he saw nothing wrong with Potter's conflict of interest and failure to disclose because the judge's ruling was "procedural" in nature.   Randerson failed any mention that "procedural ruling" was appealed. 

Last year, Randerson J directed the Law Society prosecute Auckland barrister Frank Deliu for bringing the judiciary into disrepute solely because Mr Deliu formally complained to the Judicial Conduct Commissioner about unlawful misconduct by Randerson's fellow judge Rhys Harrison.   Earlier, Randerson J was appointed by the government to a panel to "fix" the Judicial Conduct Commissioner's recommendation that erstwhile Supreme Court Justice Bill Wilson face removal from the bench for ruling in favour of his bank and business partner when on the Court of Appeal in 2007-2008.  

As it turned out, two High Court judges dismissed the JCC's recommendation to effectively impeach Wilson as inadequately researched and articulated.  Wilson subsequently resigned after the government agreed to pay him a million dollars and a generous superannunation.

The Randerson/Government charade that ensued ranked New Zealand tops in the world in three catagories, namely: "Civil justice is free of corruption", "Criminal justice is free of corruption" and "criminal system is free of improper government influence".  It appears from this stunning result that the participants were screened to disavow the corruption and government intervention in the Winebox scandal, the Mt Erebus crash investigation, the historic Mt Manganui rape trials, the Berryman bridge collapse, the Judge Wilson debacle and the current Urewera 18 trials, to name just a few. 

The implementation of recent government initiatives to limit court access and appoint government lawyers to defend Crown prosecutions through the newly created Public Defence Service also apparently did not register with the government's survey participants.

Nonetheless, Attorney General Chris Finlayson was quick to crow, "The world-beating ranking in terms of lack of corruption in the judiciary was especially pleasing given some of the uninformed criticism of the courts in the last year."

Yeah, right. 

Pointing out judicial corruption may qualify as "uninformed" in Middle Earth, and is well-known to risk the livelihood of any lawyer disposed to do so, but there was at least one category where the Minister of Propaganda found it hard to fudge the facts.  Given the well-publicised and widespread public disgust at civil court delays which can often outlive the litigants, the NZ survey lackies threw in the towel and ranked New Zealand 18th among the "high income" countries

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