Habeas Corpus means literally “You have the body”. In law it is a procedural remedy to unlawful detention which requires the entity restricting freedom of an individual to bring that detainee to court to prove their custodial authority over them. It has been called the ‘great writ’ because it is a legal summons with the force of a court order.
Not in New Zealand. The recent decision in Greer v Smith confirmed as much, and is now case law.
Applicant Greer was recently sentenced for sexual offences. His habeas corpus application appears to relate to his imprisonment prior to sentencing and a visiting judge’s order that he be more strictly confined.
Firstly, it is important to record Greer v Smith is a Supreme Court of New Zealand judgment. It was released to the legal sheepdom on 21 September without a murmur of disquiet among them. A decision by New Zealand’s highest court getting no reaction despite turning firmly-established legal procedure on its ear.
Not that many a legal head was not scratched, befuddled and uninformed regarding the contrarian legal position of New Zealand’s highest court on habeas corpus. Such befuddlement is only natural. The reality is no one in the World is allowed to see Greer’s application, let alone his submissions. No hearing was held. No recording was kept. Even the High Court disposal and Court of Appeal disposal were by private Minute, each made without appearance or hearing. A single Court of Appeal judge derailed the appeal in sequestered chambers.
The Supreme Court ruling, in turn, regurgitated from the vault of the $100 million palace built for five New Zealand lawyers who never faced so much as a public confirmation of their judicial appointments to any level of the New Zealand court system.
List one democracy in the world where five wink-and-nod lawyers say court procedure is not what their nation’s legislature and the rest of the law-respecting world say it is?
In recent history, the Privy Council kept the law supreme in New Zealand; that is until 2004 when we booted their asses for not understanding our enlightened view of the law, subsequently leading us down a road where the law disintegrates at a slow but powerful pace.
But let us step aside from the commentary/reality which lies at Middle Earth and look at the actual words of the Supreme knighted ones whom the farmers and teachers in Parliament fear to question.
Glazebrook, Arnold and O’Regan JJ of the Supreme Court of New Zealand found and concluded: “ Goddard J (in the High Court) declined a further application by Mr Greer for a writ of habeas corpus. In her (private) minute, Goddard J stated that Mr Greer was ‘lawfully detained by a Court of law and no writ of habeas corpus will lie’. Goddard J went on to add ‘furthermore, Mr Greer’s application is couched in abusive and offensive language and for that reason would not be received by the Court’.  Mr Greer sought to appeal to the Court of Appeal against Goddard J’s refusal of his application for habeas corpus. On 10 November 2014, Harrison J issued a (private) minute refusing to accept Mr Greer’s appeal stating that, given Goddard J had directed ‘the application was so defective that the Court should not receive’ it, ‘there is no judgment against which an appeal would lie’.”
Worse, the Supreme Court accepted that another High Court Judge (former Crown lawyer Mander J) could rely upon Goddard J’s vague and unrecorded private minute to deny any subsequent appearance before the Court.
The Supreme Court judges’ crowning pronouncement punctuated their approval. “Nothing raised by Mr Greer in his application satisfies us that there are exceptional circumstances that justify an appeal directly to this Court against Mander J’s decision.”
This is New Zealand’s highest court confirming that judges dismissing a writ of habeas corpus without appearance and by private minute are not only not appealable but that any attempt to appeal can be dismissed by New Zealand’s Court of Appeal by private minute of a sequestered single judge on the ground private disposals of applications do not amount to judgments! That “absence of judgment” can then be relied upon by another NZ judge as if it were a public judgment with legal effect.
This is but one, two and three reasons why the United States intel on New Zealand as exposed by wikileaks in 2011 is New Zealand is but a façade of justice secretly controlled by parochial interests with less regard for the law than an image orchestrated by those power brokers. We have been sold a bill of goods by the NZ Courts which ubiquitously issue blanket suppression orders and dispose of matters off the court record, publicly extolling their secrecy as essential to ensuring natural justice.
The undeniable fact is little would have been lost by following lawful court procedure in dismissing Mr Greer’s habeas corpus, yet the High Court and Court of Appeal could not be bothered and the Supreme Court of New Zealand has now declared this lawless procedure is acceptable without reasons why this is so. Hence, secrecy and off-the-record disposal of court applications at every stop of the New Zealand court system is so ingrained, our judges can no longer be inconvenienced to maintain the illusion of justice being done.