When it comes to prostitutes and New Zealand judges, there is legitimate debate as to which have more secrets.
The press release refers to court records at the New Zealand Supreme Court and Court of Appeal revealing that, after Court of Appeal Justice Rhys Harrison personally assigned himself an appeal to dismiss, each Court refused to allow a review of Harrison’s actions.
The appeal of “N v M” actually went twice to the NZ Supreme Court, where even the orders of secrecy are ordered secret. The second SC appeal was a recall application premised on the failure of the Supreme Court to even mention the legal ground of appeal in its first dismissal. Each resulted in public judgments which masked the legal question put to New Zealand’s highest court, i.e. it is unlawful for judges to pick the appeals they decide. The uninformed Court observer would derive from the Court judgments only that “Mr N” was a pernicious prick who obviously did not know what he was arguing.
The Supreme Court’s recall judgment similarly failed to mention it was the act of Harrison J personally assigning appeals to himself to which the Appellant sought a legal ruling. The Court ordered $12,500 in costs against the Appellant for the recall, compared to $2,500 for their original dismissal.
Counsel for “Ms M”, identified only as a harassed sex worker, were over the moon with the Court’s decision.
We did mention it was Rhys Harrison who assigned himself this case?!
Interestingly, Justice John McGrath – officially retired from the bench – teamed up with Susan Glazebrook and Willy Young JJ to give the respondents until 11 March 2015 to reply, but inexplicably rejected the recall on 27 February 2015, thereby circumventing their own timetable. Sometimes justice simply cannot wait.
Pertinently, in its 2009 watershed ruling which brought down a Supreme Court judge a year later, the New Zealand Supreme Court in Saxmere v Wool Board decreed, “ Judges are not entitled to pick and choose their cases, which are randomly allocated.”
However, the Supremes were not about to put Harrison J, a man who has ardently been behind many appointments to the NZ bench since his own appointment to the High Court bench 14 years ago in the same predicament.
Thankfully, the Supreme Court of New Zealand does not allow public access to applications filed in the Court. If this were not the case, more than a few lawyers would lose their lunch reading the breaches by one of its own which the Supreme Court twice ignored.
Dr Frank Deliu has taken instructions to advance the matter to the United Nations Human Rights Committee on behalf of Mr N. Rhys Harrison J and Dr Deliu have a history, resulting in the New Zealand Law Society spending an estimated $200,000 to unsuccessfully seek Dr Deliu be disbarred as ‘incompetent’ after Dr Deliu alleged Harrison J is racist (the Law Society has refused to disclose actual cost figures in a battle lasting 8 years). The Law Society showed its knickers in 2013, filing an originating High Court action claiming Dr Deliu’s court losses against Crown interests were evidence of his incompetence. Dr Deliu successfully obtained summary judgment and costs. Deliu has also had two Law Society Tribunal rulings against him overturned by judicial review, acting for himself.
Harrison J has been the subject of a few complaints of discrimination from lawyers – a fact concealed with ferocity by the New Zealand Law Society. Not uncoincidentally, 90% of the higher court judicial appointments are either Crown lawyers or Law Society functionaries.
Apparently, none of this is mass media newsworthy where it is not too scandalous to print. Conversely, the New Zealand Herald reported last month that a Wellington man was trying to gain his former partner’s share of lottery winnings with two such appeals knocked back by the Supreme Court in the past 3 months when in fact the man was seeking unsuccessfully to judicially review the NZ Supreme Court Registrar’s refusal to record dismissals to the Court which had nothing to do with Lotto or his ex-partner.
George Orwell was right in respect to New Zealand’s Courts at least when he said, “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
One thing seems obvious: New Zealand law is like a NZ Supreme Court judgment – You never know what you’re gonna get.