Viewers have their say

POLICE AND GOVERNMENT MUST LEAD BY EXAMPLE WHEN IT COMES TO THE ‘RULE OF LAW’

24 September 2011
by Penny Bright

If there are two groups of people who citizens should expect to follow the ‘RULE OF LAW’ – then surely they are the police and judges.

As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law.”

It is NOT ok in a supposedly ‘free and democratic’ society – for NZ Police or Judges to act unlawfully – then get the Government to pass retrospective legislation to effectively legitimise their unlawful behaviour.

If the Police evidence was unlawfully obtained then it should not be allowed to be used.

If the law is seen to be inadequate, then surely the answer must be to go through proper lawful ‘due process’ in order to get the law changed – after a full consultation / select committee process. If Police and Judges can just do as they please – without themselves following the law – then what’s the difference between them and the ‘criminals’, who are being ‘investigated’ for their alleged ‘law-breaking’?

Retroactively changing the law does not hold the Police and Judges accountable for their unlawful actions.

How can the public have confidence in the Police, Judges or the Government – if the ‘Rule of Law’ is not upheld and unlawful ‘bad behaviour’ is not only excused but retrospectively legitimised?

In my considered opinion, it is high time full credit was given to NZ’s foremost ‘Whistleblower’ on judicial corruption, and the lack of judicial transparency and accountability in this country.

I am referring to someone who I consider to be a fellow ‘Public Watchdog’ on judicial matters – Vince Siemer.

Vince Siemer is the only person sentenced to prison for proceedings connected with the Urewera 17 – and he is not even a party. He was sentenced to 6 weeks jail for ‘contempt of court’ for breaching Chief High Court Judge Winkelmann’s supposed ‘Court Order’ that the Urewera 17 defendants were to be denied their right to trial by jury and the public was not allowed to know about this.

Small technical point – there is no section in any New Zealand Act which permits a Judge to suppress a criminal judgment or the reasons for it.

Solicitor-General David Collins QC initiated the ‘contempt’ proceedings against Vince Siemer for publishing Judge Winkelmann’s judgment denying trial by jury for the 18 formerly accused Urewera defendants.

Apparently, this is the first time ever, in any lawful democracy, that a third party publisher has been sentenced to imprisonment for breaching an order suppressing the public’s right to know a judgment in a criminal proceeding.

Our NZ ‘justice’ system needs three ‘systems’ changes that would transform it –

1) An enforceable ‘Code of Conduct’ for NZ Judges. (Based upon the ‘Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct’ – an international ‘best practice’ Code of Conduct made by Judges for Judges. )

2) A ‘Register of Pecuniary Interests’ for NZ Judges.

3) Court proceedings must be recorded, and copies made available to parties who request them.

How can ‘justice be done and be seen to be done’ – when there is no record in court of what was done? How can a ‘court of record’ not keep a record?

Penny Bright. Independent ‘Public Watchdog’ candidate for Epsom.

13 Percent of Fathers Who Apply For Custody Get It. I’m One.

24 April 2010
The belief that the Family Court is there to support children and parents is a fallacy. It has become little more than a cash cow for lawyers, judges and social workers who prey on separation of the child for their own personal financial benefit.  Sure, there are some lawyers and social workers with a genuine interest in what is best for the child, but the system is geared to financially reward those Family Court agents who identify problems.

The fact that 400,000 children go home every night to a fatherless home is testament to social engineering on a grand scale which has been allowed to continue aggressively under the Labour government for the last nine years.

How has this been allowed to happen you may ask? Let me explain, for what purpose does this serve. Mayhem, and control by the state to control it’s citizens by increasing the underclass who become dependent on the state for welfare, depriving fathers the opportunity to be a part of their children’s lives through child support, thereby not being able to see them through the state making one parent responsible for the financial affairs of the children and the mother.

It is a widely known that once a mother gets on the DPB she has a hand out for life so long as she remains the primary care giver. How does this work?  For a start, you need to make sure the father gets no more than 141 days a year and is responsible for child support. A woman can earn with two dependent children upwards of $600 a week on the DPB. Why would any person want to come off that gravy train?

My experience of four years is indeed an insight into how the system destroys families and, in particular, children and fathers who commit suicide at an alarming rate. A while back I got a hold of Mike McRoberts from TV3 in the foyer and hit him up for some hard answers.  His reply was “We are not allowed to deal with anything that involves the Family Court.”   It is true that Judges’ make pervasive suppression orders over most of what occurs in the Family Courts.  But our children and fathers are dying.  The fourth estate in New Zealand is content to fiddle while Rome burns.

The most crucial element to obtain control of the child, or children, is to ensure that the mother claims custody thus claim to child support. The next step is to punish the father by way of making access difficult or lay claim to child abuse – or worse, sexual contact – and failing this, false allegations of assault.  I have had to overcome all of the above in my battle to see my son.  While doing this, and following up with application after application, his mother’s lawyers stalled for time when we got into court. Domestic Violence Orders are an effective tool in neutralising fathers.

Mine was like many cases, where the custodial parent ratcheted up allegations of antagonistic behaviour by the aggrieved and loving father to the point where it takes superhuman strength to suppress the instinct of retaliation.  In comes the court-appointed lawyer for the child, and you are now being interviewed by psychologists and psychiatrists who have an uncanny ability to sum you up after one two-hour visit.  This opinion is put before the courts, ensuring the process can take up to two years before resolution.

My interview was done by a motherless lesbian.  Most loving fathers by this time have been destroyed, give up the fight and submit to a meager existence because the soul and spirit have been broken by the Family Court and its processes.

They can no longer afford lawyers bills, the stress of the fighting and trying to maintain an orderly existence and see the children and maintain child support. Many leave the country or have nothing to do with their kids. The children are never taken into account. In my son’s case, he was kidnapped by his mother for 31 days before I got into court.  Now I believe firmly this was done with express consent of her lawyer so that I would react and snatch him from his mother’s house – as he was taken from his daycare and not returned.

My son had no contact with me at all during this time.  After making applications to have a Protection Order placed on me and applying for supervised visits at a Barnados centre of only two hours a week, his mother followed up by visiting the Police Station in Newmarket 14 days after the alleged assault.

The problem was, there wasn’t an assault.  The long and short was I obtained shared care 50/50, and the mother spent in excess of $30-40,000 on a lawyer keeping a child away from a loving father. Lawyer for Child are leeches and are paid huge sums of money to act in the interests of the child.  However, they act in the interests of the financial benefits of prolonging situations that keep them employed. I know one Lawyer who has fifty clients.  Could one woman possibly work in the best interests of all of these families or is she just clipping the ticket?

I believe if we look at statistics today we can correlate much of the social fabric breaking down due to lack of fathering, dependent mothers and the morally wrong approach of more children means more state aid and who cares who the father is!

Judge Peter Boshier is a hypocrite.  He enjoys fostering women’s meetings, when in reality children have been misplaced and left to their own devises to survive the horror of family court incompetence. Why are they hypocrites, well they destroy lives Monday to Friday and go church on Sunday to be pious and conceited in that they think they have made a difference, tell that to the tax payer who is covering the $600 million for all these up and coming criminals who never got the chance for a decent caring father.

I got my son and I made a difference to a child’s life.  I am not about to stop there.

Brent Matches
Family Court Veteran.

 

WHY IS SUICIDE IN NEW ZEALAND HIGHEST IN THE WORLD WHEN MEDIA DOES NOT REPORT SUICIDE?

16 March 2010
By Anthony Ravlich
Various ‘outsider’ Non Government Organizations are planning a television program to discuss the high rate of youth suicide in New Zealand which last September’s OECD report stated was the highest amongst its member States.

Replublican Party Leader Kerry Bevin, who is collecting signatures to send to parliament, states there is a high level of concern amongst New Zealanders of ‘all walks of life’ at the suicide rate. Mr Bevin is one of the organizers of the planned television program and can be contacted by anyone interested in taking part in the television show panel, or as part of the audience, by phoning (09) 473 3747.

Our council, the Human Rights Council Inc. (New Zealand) is also involved. Presently chairperson of the council, I have been a human rights advocate, writing about New Zealand and the United Nations for nineteen years ( my book, ‘Freedom from our social prisons’, is now on an official UN website http://hrbaportal.org/?page_id=3180 despite my harsh criticisms of that organization).

In my informed view, one essential cause of many of our social problems is the creation of a class society which has been permitted by the surprising exclusion of non-discrimination on the grounds of social origin (social status at birth) from our domestic human rights law. Also I consider that this discrimination has been condoned by the United Nations and global elites.

Among other very serious effects on New Zealand society this discrimination has denied the children of beneficiaries (generally considered to have a lower social status at birth) from receiving the same in-work tax credit of about $60 per week as the children of working families (see the Child Poverty Action Group website who state about 200,000 children are affected).  It has also allowed a ‘so-called liberal’ elite of  ‘born to rule’, middle class professionals, who hide their control from the people using traditional ‘divide and rule’ methods, to considerably privilege members of the middle classes over those with ability contributing to the mass exodus of New Zealand ‘tall poppies’ (including ‘tall poppies’ in the middle classes) to live overseas. This elite essentially regards human rights as their intellectual property and have managed to ‘dumb down’ the New Zealand population. According to the New Zealand Human Rights Commission, successive Governments have failed to fund section 5(a) of the Human Rights Act 1993 which requires that the Commission educate people in human rights. Without this understanding people lacked the ability to properly defend themselves in what is essentially a ‘human rights world’.  Or to ensure such social status is earned.

Non-discrimination on the ground of social origin is in the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, upon which our human rights laws are based.

The ramifications of this international and domestic discrimination on the grounds of social status are profound. For example, globalization is based on this discrimination. One of the major claims of those who promote globalization is that it has taken many millions out of poverty in China – but human rights protects minorities consequently you cannot destroy the lives (which must also be worth living) of New Zealand children even if it helps the children of the very poor in China. Human rights does not allow such an ‘ends justifies the means’, psychopathic approach. The beautiful idea of ‘global citizenship’ has turned into something ugly, a ‘global elite citizenship’ using a discriminatory human rights agenda.

While it is inevitable that such a ‘born to rule’ elite would see the British class system as their model, unlike Britain which is more honest about its faults and not so lacking in tolerance to exclude those with exceptional ability, our elite perpetuates the ‘equality myth’ :
Social values: New Zealanders have a very similar way of life and share values common to most Western countries, but there are some special features. We are passionate about sport, and have a firm belief in social equality. The social welfare system prevents extreme poverty, and the nation has neither a strong class system nor major social tensions. Differences between high and low-income people are not pronounced (17 Dec 2006).

Other support for my work has come from Rosslyn Noonan, New Zealand’s Chief Human Rights Commissioner. Also an email from John Key’s office on 27 May 2009 stated: “The Prime Minister will appreciate your taking the time to write to him”.

The above discrimination and human rights omissions are ‘easily’ verified from human rights law and the internet can locate original UN sources and major international NGOs with consultative status with the UN.

I am confident that the above truth will help people, not only in New Zealand but around the world. Considering the emphasis New Zealand places on a good human rights image (we do not have economic or military might) it may consider including this ground of non-discrimination immediately and the State could immediately fund human rights education. Also needed to include in domestic law is Article 29 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which requires that ‘everyone has duties to the community’, to ensure that social status is earned.  BACK TO FRONT PAGE

JOKERS  WILD

15 September 2009
Being a bit of a joker does not make me an expert card player by any ‘whist’ of the imagination (besides, I don’t have the patience) but I don’t have to be an expert to understand that when we play a game of cards with someone we deal fair and don’t cheat…and on this basis…my heart goes out to the Berryman’s whom have been dragged into a game of charades with some bottom-of-the-pack shufflers in the New Zealand Defence Force over a game called ‘Bridge’

 

Now, according to Hoyle…the structure of ‘Bridge’ is supposed to be laid down according to the rules, but it would seem that some mavericks in the NZDF have not only been dealing from under the table but may also have been under the influence of a few too many ‘gin rummy’s’ and have now brought the game into disrepute because it has collapsed…like a pack of cards! …And if the NZDF thinks that playing the ‘Justice Wild’ card to take the ‘trick’ (the army engineers report on the bridge) so that it cannot be used to exonerate the Berryman’s, then they are mistaken.

 

And what has the NZDF done so far to repair the damage? …Instead of providing a ‘jack’-up to fix the ‘Bridge’ the ‘knave’ NZDF ‘jack’-up the enquiry and to show they are all ‘Heart’ the rough ‘Diamond’ running the Government offered 150,000 measly ‘chips’ for compensation that really basically says…’Go Fish’ …Anyone whom insults other people like that deserves being thumped on the head with a ‘Club’ and buried with a ‘Spade’

 

Public outrage over the Berryman’s unjust treatment has summoned lawyer Rob Moodie swinging the sword of truth to jump into the fray on a charger named justice for the common man. A noble deed to be sure and compares to the light brigade charging up the barrels of the big guns except in this case Balaclava is not the valley our brave knight is pounding down, but is what faceless bureaucrats must be wearing so the public cannot identify whom is responsible for not morally and rightfully compensating the Berryman’s for their unlawful loss of freedoms, rights and liberties.

Blaming innocent citizens of our community for the collapse of a bridge that they did not build or own that was built on land they did not own (queens chain) that caused the death of one of our peers is not going to ‘Bridge the gap’ in public relations.

 

Here’s a piece of advice for the card sharks in the NZDF …Because you people are such lousy ‘Bridge’ players I suggest you try a new game that should stop you getting into trouble with monuments to your selves constructed in lofty places and will bring you down to a more appropriate level to reduce the chance of you doing any more damage to members of the public…

 

…This new game is called…’Pontoon’

 

Benny Bennetts

EROSION OF TRIAL BY JURY AND PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE

2 February 2008 ,  by Gerard O’Brien
The old law of the land is called lex terrae (or legem terrae) and is referred to as the common law. It contains no statute law and is the most ancient law, being the laws established from the customs of the people. King Alfred began his reign in 872. History tells us he recorded those laws and, as the Sovereign sworn to maintain them, was strict with his Judges.

He transmitted the name of one Judge Freburne to posterity. It was reported in Home’s Mirror, pp 239-240, that “He hanged Freburne because he judged Harpin to die, whereas the jury were in doubt of their verdict, for in doubtful cases one ought rather to save than to condemn.”

It is clear from this single example that the presumption of innocence, the right to trial-by-jury, and the requirement for a guilty verdict to be unanimous were principles embodied in lex terrae and pre-date the Great Charter.

The Great Charter of 1215, the Magna Carta, was exacted from King John, at the point of the sword so to speak, to reaffirm the principles of the common law and the sworn duty of the Sovereign to maintain them. Sovereigns that break their oath in this matter perjure themselves, and history shows those that have done so have been deposed (e.g. Richard II).

The fundamental principles of lex terrae are lights that shine in perpetuity. They do not dim or fade as time passes. The rights these principles assert are real, and very precious. The lives of many good men have been given in the course of maintaining these principles and rights over the centuries in the face of tyranny. It is these rights that were extended to Maori in the Treaty of Waitangi.

In 1368 King Edward III asserted that no law could contravene the principles of lex terrae that were reaffirmed in the Great Charter [(1368) 42 Edw 3, c 3.] In this Statute it is said “That the Great Charter and the Charter of the Forest be holden and kept in all Points; and if any Statute be made to the contrary that shall be holden for none.”

This Imperial Statute [(1368) 42 Edw 3, c 3.] remains in force in New Zealand (see Schedule 1 of Imperial Laws Application Act 1988).

This Statute reaffirms the preeminence of the principles of the Great Charter and lex terrae. Its repeal could not extinguish that preeminence. It means that if Parliament makes a Statute that is repugnant to the principles reaffirmed by the Great Charter, that Statute is not law and is not enforceable. Parliament having penned such a Statute cannot assert it as law. Juries have a duty to reject that Statute as unlawful, Judges (as of their oath lest they perjure themselves) must reject that Statute as unlawful, and the Governor General may not grant Royal Assent to the Statute lest our Sovereign be perjured by proxy.

The New Zealand Parliament has been considering the Criminal Procedure Bill which has provisions to introduce majority 11:1 guilty verdict requirements, and provisions to introduce trial-by-judge under certain circumstances. Such provisions as detailed in the bill are contrary to the principles of the Great Charter and lex terrae. It is unlawful law and may not be enacted.

Section 92A of the Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act 2008, with its provision for guilt by accusation, is contrary to the lex terrae principle of “Presumption of Innocence” and is contrary to the Great Charter by attempting to deny an accused a right to trial-by-jury. It is unlawful law and “shall be holden for none” [(1368) 42 Edw 3, c 3.].

It is unfortunate but true that there is another existing Statute that also contains provisions that contravene the Great Charter and lex terrae. I was made aware that Sections 19A and 19B of the Judicature Act 1908 make provisions for jury trials to be dispensed with in certain cases. It is unlawful law and “shall be holden for none” [(1368) 42 Edw 3, c 3.].

I doubt any of the Legislatures or our country has ever intended to place our Sovereign in a position at odds with the laws of the land she is sworn to maintain. Yet that is where we find ourselves today.

The principle of presumption of innocence, the principle of the right to trial by jury and the principle of unanimity in guilty verdicts cannot be trifled with. Fundamental principles of the law of the land and the rights they assert cannot be contravened by any legal law. The principles are the foundation of the law. The issue is neither negotiable nor arguable.

That this be true is attested by history. Contravention or evasion of these great fundamental principles by Sovereigns brought disorder and revolution and at the cost of blood and life the people restored their ancient rights. I pray we do not have to walk those paths again.

It would be impossible to describe the enactment and enforcement of laws that contravene these great fundamental principles, with the coercive force of the state, as anything other than tyranny or despotism.

Expediency in procedure seems to arise as the basis for making laws that contravene fundamental principles of law and justice, and not just in New Zealand. Australian Hansard records of May 2006 show that in the second reading of their Jury Amendments (Verdicts) Bill, Reverend The Honourable Dr Gordon Moyes says that ‘The High Court in Cheatle v The Queen, in 1993 volume 177 of Commonwealth Law Reports at page 560, held that “to abrogate the requirement of unanimity involves an abandonment of an essential feature of the institution of trial by jury”. Further, the court was not convinced that considerations of convenience favoured the abolition of unanimity.’

How refreshing, a contemporary reaffirmation of the principle of unanimity. Also important here is the identification of the notion of convenience being used as a tool to undermine fundamental principles. It disgusts me that some seek expediency in order that the prosecution may more readily gain a conviction. Attempting to dictate how a case be tried depending on the proposed punishment is equally abhorrent and pernicious.

To declare to an accused man that his inalienable right to trial-by-jury does not exist because the charges made, if proven, do not entail a sentence of imprisonment, or imprisonment for this or that many months or years, is an abomination.

Not only does it discard the principle of the right to trial-by-jury, it also perniciously discards the principle of presumption of innocence, and replaces it with presumption of guilt, on the basis that there are facts already determined by the prosecution! Shame on all who would propose such despicable measures. The facts may only be determined by a legally constituted jury and the law is not decided until the jury delivers its verdict.

What did our forefathers hold to be the truth in these matters? I quote from a letter to the editor of Flower’s Political Review and Monthly Register Volume VIII, July-January 1810-1811, p 268-269. The particulars quoted are concerning the curse laid on those who would infringe the Great Charter.

‘Lord Somers has given us the following particulars: “King Henry III, attended with all the great nobility of England, all the bishops, and chief prelates, in their ornaments, with burning candles in their hands, assembled to hear the terrible sentence of excommunication upon all the infringers of the Great Charter, which was thus pronounced : In the name of the Omnipotent God &c; which done the Charter of King John his father was read; in the end having thrown away their candles they cried out – So let them who incur this sentence be extinct, and stink in hell: and the King with a loud voice said – As God help me, I will as a man, a christian, a knight, a king crowned and anointed, inviolably observe all these things.” Lord Somers has not here recited the curse, but the reader will find it at large in British Liberties or Freeborn Subjects Inheritance, p 50 and 52. It extended to “all those that in any point do resist, or break, or in any manner hereafter procure, counsel, or any ways assent to resist, or break, those ordinances, or go about it by word or deed, openly or privily, by any manner of pretence or colour &c.” Whence we plainly see that Magna Charta was not to be infringed under colour of privilege, or any other pretence; – they particularly applied the curse to legislators, judges, and other constituted authorities, as follows. “And all that secretly or openly, by deed, word, or council, do make statutes, or observe them being made, and that bring in customs, or keep them when they be brought in against ths [sic] said liberties, or any of them, the writers, the law-makers, the counselors, and the executioners of them, and all those that shall presume to judge against them.”‘
…..and…..
‘Here we see clearly that all who make statutes – that is King, Lords and Commons, for who else have ever made any statutes in this country, do willfully consign themselves to eternal perdition, if they shall at any time thereafter make any statutes, or bring in any customs into parliament, contrary to any of the said liberties.’

In closing, I offer that all good and reasonable men and women would rightly expect that our sworn representatives make things aright and survey their Statutes expunging all legislation that contravenes the fundamental principles in lex terrae and reaffirmed in the Great Charter, the Magna Carta.

Bond and Corruption

24 December 2008
New Zealand is by its own population perceived as country with little or no corruption. This self assessment does not hold water, especially when you observe the country from outside its boundaries.

Most perceive corruption as events where shady judges or jury members meet delinquent lawyers, business people or accused criminals in dark corners of back street bars and wads of untraceable cash change hands to secure a favourable predictable outcome, or business people put journalists and news bosses on their own payroll to secure favourable media coverage “Goodfather style”.

It is highly unlikely that such events take place in New Zealand, but Kiwis have with their ingenuity developed another more sophisticated corruption. The very word “corruption” is Latin and literally means that many cooperate (co-) to break (rupture) the system for their own gain, financial or other.

That is the New Zealand corruption, a quite, unspoken, well understood collusion between individuals and groups of individuals. Let’s call it “bonds-corruption”. They take advantage of the invisible personal bonds between like-thinking individuals, professionals and groups for financial and other gain as social standing or noble dishonesty where no personal gain is intended.

We all well know that if you don’t pay a lawyer to represent you in any court, you are immediately put under intense pressure by judges, who also are lawyers, and court staff to pay a lawyer, and if you do not comply, the judge and the court staff will almost invariably short-change you. The fraternity of legal people protect their own standing in the society and their financial gains using like thinking professional bonds.

Judges do not lie, or do they? Well – secret, but unlawful, recordings of cases we have received tell a different story. People who used small MP3 devices and recorded proceedings have compared the recording to the written transcript, and found it is different. At the same time the official court audio recording has “disappeared”, “accidentally been recorded over”, “not saved for extensive times”, or the court staff simply does not bother to respond. At the same time, the person who recorded the session dare not come forward as that would trigger a harsh retaliation from the judges.

Europe abolished their secret courts after the NAZI era, but New Zealand has maintained one secret court, the Family Court. The Family Court website claim that Judges are appointed based on special qualifications suitable for the task, but the reality seems to be that judges that do not stand up to public scrutiny have chosen to selectively apply to work for just this court as they do not have to endure the media scrutiny. The court is secret.

Other methods to protect the bonds-corruption are frequently used suppression orders from judges, and legal intimidation from lawyers. This together with the unusually strict and odd New Zealand defamation laws form a near water tight system used to protect white collar criminals, shady business people and their dealings, and bonds-corrupt lawyers and judges.

Lawyers in New Zealand also have a monopolistic and exclusive access to courts and justice, nobody else can file for proceedings, and only lawyers can represent others. Why does this exclusive closed club of individuals have such privileged rights no other professions have. Probably because the make the rules themselves. It is equivalent to AA having sole right to make traffic laws, REINZ to make property laws, and the Society of Accountants would have the sole right to make company law, and then these institutions could then exercise some form of taxation as compulsory use of their services. This is what the legal fraternity has done.

The legal fraternity also have their own disciplinary system, lawyers judge lawyers. New Zealand needs a system where the public are able to make that judgment. The media that was supposed to perform that function has effectively bee silenced.

The free media with free speech is supposed to keep a tab on corrupt and bonds-corrupt courts, businesspeople politicians and alleged criminals, but with laws as the defamation laws, the frequent suppression orders, legal intimidation and media bosses selective over time breeding of a tame journalist class that will not cause trouble, that safety guard has been put out of action. A free and independent media and free speech has said to be one of the foundations for democracy, but not so in New Zealand.

There is nothing in New Zealand that protects free speech or anonymity of media and internet sources, as the constitution does in most civilized countries. That authorities as the police and other public services are routinely systematic collecting information on all individuals and their activities is in reality an effective and functional censorship. The latest collection of information by the police SIG teams of unions and activists just show what is really going on behind closed doors. Nobody with a coupe of kids in school, a mortgage, and a regular income would even contemplate to stand up against the bonds-corrupt establishment.

They could not survive an attack from white collar criminals, businesses or business people, or the legal fraternity as lawyers and judges.  With a regular income and assets, they can not access legal aid, and not risk family and personal ruin, so they have to remain silenced and pacified.

The very system once intended to protect them is being used to suppress and control them for others financial benefit.

The solutions are not one singular but many, an internet based media placed outside New Zealand jurisdiction and administrated by people that can not be reached and intimidated by the New Zealand legal fraternity, business community, or criminals. A strict protection of media sources against investigation and data collection would be neded.

A changed court system and legal system that give any individual access to the courts and any individual the right to represent others. A system where judges or lawyers can be monitored and removed by the public, rather than secret and convoluted systems as presently. All court cases to be video recorded and the recording made available over the internet indefinitely.

New Zealand has to change laws and legal systems to remove the focus of justice from law as a science and history only a few can understand, to a system based on common sense and something every person can understand. The present laws and systems are so convoluted that it takes lengthy academic studies and a near life time experience to understand them, so how can the common man then be expected to abide by the law, a system of scattered legal fragment collected over some 170 years, and based on a country with a different culture on the other side of the globe.

Any skilled insider in that system can make just about anything from it. People overseas marvel that 150 year old laws about cattle straying onto a neighbours land can be applied to computer science. One Chinese lawyer asked how much grass the computer had to eat to entitle the land owner to compensation, and then laughed.

A removal of laws as the defamation laws, restriction of judge’s right to suppress information, especially about other members of the legal elite, and a requirement that media must be independent and not owned or controlled by those it is to scrutinize. A complete overhaul of the rules to enable and implement system to expose and remedy bonds-corruption.

Why can judges now precede and rule over cases involving their own relatives or other associates. A reform is urgently needed, and can not be entrusted to the legal fraternity who would only use it to featherbed themselves further into bonds-corruption.

Changes need to be done by the public.

This has a profound effect on New Zealand’s standing in world trade competition, and it certainly show up in the trade balance figures. Few foreign business people would even contemplate coming to such an incestuous place to do business, let alone the racial and discriminatory barriers the state has created in the visa and access system to prevent them. Chinese people often tell me they don’t dare to go to New Zealand for business or study as they fear being attacked on the streets.

Rick Harriss ,  Kiwi writer in Hong Kong

Dear Dr Collins

 

I wonder if you can help me. I am not a lawyer and I’m struggling to get my head around some legal issues that I have seen in the newspapers recently (particularly the Sunday Star Times and Farmers’ Weekly). My understanding is that you are NZ’s most senior lawyer, so I’m sure you’ll be able to explain just how things work.

First, this business of Justice Bill Wilson hearing a case in the Court of Appeal where the lawyer acting for one of the parties was his best friend and business partner in a multi-million dollar horse stud. Seems totally inappropriate to me.  I know that I wouldn’t like to go to court and find out later that the judge was the best friend and business partner of the lawyer for the other side.  I think I’d be pretty upset, because it is unreasonable to presume the judge would give the party opposing his best mate a fair hearing. Well, maybe he could, but I’d be very dubious and it would be rather nice to see that justice was being done. What I do know is that, in a situation like this, the judge is required to stand aside from hearing the case.  Still, in a search on the internet, I can’t find any punishment for NZ judges who ignore this requirement.

So, you will appreciate that, to a lay person such as myself, this seems like a clear-cut case of judicial bias. But I’m sure you’ll be able to correct my misunderstanding.

Okay, the second bit I’m struggling with is this. Justice Wilson sat through the hearing and helped overturn the High Court decision which was based on the hearing of evidence. Months later, the guy who had won in the High Court and lost in the Court of Appeal (Peter Radford) found out about the judge’s conflict and was pretty upset. And rightly so, I believe. He went to Professor Duncan Webb at the University of Canterbury Law School who is an expert on legal ethics. Prof Webb wrote to the Judicial Conduct Commissioner (JCC) asking him to investigate the situation, but the JCC claimed that he does not have jurisdiction. Whoa, hang on, stop right there.  Let me get this clear. The one person in NZ specifically given jurisdiction to investigate judicial misconduct claims he has no jurisdiction to investigate judicial misconduct. Do you see my problem here?

Now, being a curious person, I found out all I could about the JCC on the internet and I’d have to say it is a position which abounds in coincidences. First, the man who acts as the JCC (Ian Haynes) also works for a big law firm in Auckland, which I find a rather odd coincidence, as I’d always assumed that the JCC would work for the public of NZ given that we pay his salary. But it now seems that he works for the lawyers and the judges. Second, in the three years of the existence of the JCC, he has received over 300 complaints about judges, but not one has been deemed worthy of further investigation. Not one. Extraordinary coincidence.

Anyway, back to Peter Radford. As I understand it, the JCC finally agreed that he may have jurisdiction to investigate the complaint, so he wrote a very polite (I’m sure) letter to Justice Wilson asking him to explain. But before Justice Wilson could respond, he first had to see the file on the case. Why he needed to read the case file in order to remember whether he had a conflict or not is beyond me, but as I keep saying, I’m not a lawyer and I don’t understand these things. But now, in another extraordinary coincidence, the court has lost the case file. Now I’m really curious. Can you tell me how the court can lose a very large file in a very small building? Don’t they have a filing system? Not even a stack of boxes in the corner?

Anyway, before the Court of Appeal hearing Justice Wilson revealed to Radford’s QC that he owned some horses together with the opposing lawyer. In other words, by partially disclosing his conflict to the QC, he actually confirmed that he knew that he had a conflict. Can it be true that he then decided to hear the case anyway, apparently ignoring all of the advice given to judges about how to deport themselves in this sort of situation? So now the JCC looked to be in a bit of a tight spot. He has been told by the legal ethics expert that he (the JCC) did indeed have jurisdiction over this form of judicial conduct and the judge himself had confirmed that there was a conflict. Now this is getting really tricky for someone who is 0 from 300, but boy did he ever get lucky! By the most amazing of coincidences, he was suddenly called overseas for six weeks. Wow, now that really is lucky! Fancy being urgently called overseas for six weeks just as he was on the verge of addressing the most important constitutional crisis he has yet to encounter in his career.

Come on, Dr Collins, if this weren’t so serious it would be absolutely hilarious! The JCC must surely be an embarrassment to all right-thinking judges, don’t you think? What on earth are the public going to think when this extraordinary smoke-and-mirrors behaviour is exposed?

But back to the main story. It then started to get a bit complicated, because other things were happening at the same time as Mr Radford was waiting for the JCC to decide for the 301st time that he couldn’t possibly find any basis to investigate an allegation of judicial misconduct. To cut a long story short, it seems Mr Radford instructed his lawyer to appeal to the Supreme Court to overturn the Court of Appeal decision because of Justice Wilson’s apparent conflict of interest.

Now, this is where you can help me directly because, if I’m reading the newspaper articles right, you have known about the Justice Wilson situation since at least May, but you have done nothing. Your website confirms that, along with the Attorney General, you are the ultimate protector of the public interest and the ultimate maintainer of the rule of law in NZ. I would have thought that the best course of action would have been for you to recommend that the Court of Appeal decision be set aside, confess that the Crown had made a stuff-up, censure Justice Wilson, compensate the parties involved and life would have gone on.

But no, Mr Radford has been forced to go to the Supreme Court to appeal for some justice. Now, let’s just stop and think about that for a second. Mr Radford appears to have been the victim of a procedural injustice in the Court of Appeal. The Crown is at fault. It is therefore the Crown’s responsibility to correct the situation. But Mr Radford, who presumably has spent huge sums of money just getting to the Court of Appeal, is forced to spend yet more money going to the Supreme Court to correct the fault of the Crown. It seems awfully like blaming the victim to me. Can you please explain to me how you, as Solicitor General, have acted in the public interest or acted to maintain the rule of law in this situation?

And now we come to the really tricky bit. As I understand it, Mr Radford’s lawyer also worked for the Department of Conservation, but has now been sacked because she has brought the case to the Supreme Court. As you know, I am not a lawyer and obviously I am ignorant of the niceties of the law, but to me your actions look very much like an attempt to influence the outcome of a court case. I would be extremely grateful if you would explain to me how this is different from perverting the course of justice.

Oh, and one last thing. A hypothetical question. What would happen if a judge having what appears to the reasonable lay person to be clear conflict of interest were to be cleared of any wrongdoing? Do you think anyone in NZ would ever have faith in the judiciary again?

James Jenkins
Auckland

 

DO NEW ZEALAND COURTS PUT CONTEMPT ABOVE THE RULE OF LAW?

20 June 2008   Article by Anne Hunt
Theoretically the Courts have an obligation to respect this right, although there are some legitimate limitations to protect citizens from defamation, a breach of privacy and offensive material.  And then there are the constraints attributable to court orders, many of them imposed to protect the right of a person to a fair hearing.  But therein, lies the rub.

Courts, when imposing court orders, surely have a responsibility to ensure there is justification for imposing court orders, rather than do so purely to censor information somebody wants suppressed.  The discretion of the Courts to suppress information by way of court orders then becomes a serious threat to the well-established legal right to impart information and opinions.  Breach of a court order is considered a contempt of court – a serious offence for which the penalties include imprisonment for an indeterminate period of time.

In recent years, the following have faced, or are due to face contempt of court proceedings:
*     an MP – Dr Nick Smith for disclosing information on radio relating to a Family Court matter. Conviction could have cost him his political career.
*     a lawyer – Bob Moodie for disclosing the Butcher report in the Berryman case. Conviction deprived him of his right to practice for a period of time.
*     a newspaper editor – Tim Pankhurst for coverage in the Dominion Post of the police terrorism raids
*     an author – Anne Hunt for her coverage of the outcome of a sexual abuse case. Conviction could have cost her, her seat on the Horowhenua District Council.
*     and of course a businessman – Vince Seimer for disclosing information on a web-site which is subject to an interim injunction in a defamation suit – yet to be heard.

In his New Zealand Civil Rights handbook, Tim McBride says that contempt of court is a potentially dangerous constraint on freedom of expression because it involves criminal proceedings that are unaccompanied by the ordinary safeguards of the criminal law.   Court orders can, in effect, sanction secret trials – the very antithesis of the transparency necessary to not only ensure that justice is done, but also seen to be done.

Not possible for secret trials to occur in a democratic country, you may presume.   Court documents prove otherwise.  Court orders in New Zealand can be potent enough to suppress the very existence of the proceedings, and that is the point at which, the right of the Courts to impose court orders must be curbed.  A person who appears in a courtroom which is closed to the public, has lost all rights to a fair and open hearing and is totally at the mercy of the Judge.  And Courts which exercise that right, should quite rightly be held in contempt!

The classic case which demonstrates how dangerous court orders is my own: A v A Hunt CIV-2003-485-2553. (Ironically, my name appeared on all court documents and was displayed outside the High Court in full view of the public, despite the name suppression order in force.)   On Friday 21 November 2003, Justice John Wild issued ex parte orders suppressing the existence of the proceedings.  These orders were not intended to be an interim measure.  Hugh Rennie QC had sought these orders to allow his client, the plaintiff, his day in court.
In other words, I as the defendant was denied the right to tell my husband that I would be travelling from my Foxton Beach home to Wellington because I had been summoned to appear in the Wellington High Court charged with contempt of court.  It would have been contempt of court for me to do so.

The Court had also deprived me of my right to access the documents used for my research and which had been returned to the owner.  For this reason I was not in a position to challenge allegations – and at this stage they were only allegations – that I had breached a court order, and therefore had no option but to recall all copies of my book at that stage on sale in bookshops. Library copies were also returned to await the outcome of the civil claim for contempt of court.  The onus was now upon the plaintiff to prove the contempt of court, but in the meantime the book had effectively been banned.  After two hearings in closed Chambers, I came to the conclusion that I had no hope of a fair hearing unless I succeeded in getting the order suppressing the existence of the proceedings uplifted.

After nine months, Justice Forest Miller – the fourth judge I had encountered – conceded this order was extraordinary and removed it.  Nevertheless all ten interlocutory hearings continued be heard in closed chambers, and all documents remained confidential to the parties.  Justice Ron Young presided over the remaining interlocutory hearings; hearings which lacked transparency, and hence fairness.

After a three-day hearing before Justice Wild in Wellington, I was found to be in contempt of court, fined and ordered to pay damages, court costs and disbursements to the plaintiff.
Justice Wild issued instructions for all copies of my book to be destroyed, and the order suppressing the title of my book was to remain in place.  This meant that, in effect, anybody could be charged with contempt of court, merely for mentioning the title of the book.  Such is the impact of court orders!

A stay of execution was required to prevent the destruction of my books, as I had filed an appeal on the grounds that Justice Wild had set aside all evidence relating to Dr David Collins QC (now the Solicitor-General) because I chose not to call him as a witness.

The Court of Appeal quashed all High Court orders, after reaching the view that Justice Wild had ‘inadvertently’ erred in his interpretation of the hearsay rule.  Only now can I disclose the documents which confirm that I had indeed been confronted with the prospect of a secret trial to ban Broken Silence, pressure which took a significant  toll on my own health and that of my husband.  He suffered a fatal heart attack and died four months after urging me to settle because he had said he could not bear to live without me. A few days later, he apologised, stating that the principles we were fighting for were too important to be sacrificed.  Tragically we had sensed that this litigation would ultimately be the death of one of us.

Although the Court of Appeal has now exonerated me, I now have nothing but contempt for court.

As the author of The Foxton Murder, and having covered the murder trial following the death of  Dr Howard Teppett and rape of his sister, I had always encouraged people to respect the integrity of the Courts. Only now, having experienced first-hand the intimidation that occurs in courtrooms without the safeguard of transparency, I have come to the belief that the Courts are no longer worthy of my respect.  Indeed I cannot rest whilst other law-abiding citizens are treated with contempt by the very Courts which have an obligation to respect the right to seek, receive and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form.

As I understand it, Michael Stiassny has yet to prove that the information subject to an interim injunction is defamatory, and until he has done so, the Solicitor-General must be cautious about resorting to contempt of court proceedings.

The Court of Appeal conceded that Dr David Collins QC undoubtedly made quite extensive notations on my manuscript, and that these notations confirm that he had viewed the page relevant to my own contempt of court proceedings.  Amongst other documents disclosed as evidence was the note I had taken of his phone call to me on Monday 18 June 2001, and which confirms that, disclosed to me during the course of this conversation was information subject to a suppression order.

It is not generally known that my books were recalled twice. On the first occasion it was to delete a surname covered by a name suppression order.  As this surname had appeared on every document relating to this case I had seen (and I had viewed a considerable number of Court of Appeal documents referring to this associated case), I was appalled to discover that the Court of Appeal had ‘inadvertently’ released this name and yet I could still be charged with contempt if I did not agree to recall my books at considerable expense and delete this name from every book.

If disclosures by the Courts and also the lawyer who is now the Solicitor-General can inadvertently place members of the public in contempt of court, then the Courts themselves need to review their own procedures to ensure that all those associated with the legal profession meet the same standards demanded of citizens who are not as conversant with the law as they are.

Until they do so, the Courts warrant my contempt for their double standards and complete disregard for the Bill of Rights, they are required by law to uphold.
Contempt of court is, as I can now confirm, a potentially dangerous constraint on freedom of expression and the time has come to curb the autocratic power Judges wield when issuing court orders.

Judges have already proved that they are prepared to sanction secret trials for no other reason than to allow the plaintiff his day in court. When Judges are also prepared to issue court orders to censor information which embarrasses influential people or organisations, the Courts have deprived law-abiding citizens of the very rights the Bill of Rights was enacted to uphold.   The precedents are in place, and warrant our contempt.   BACK TO FRONT PAGE

FEDERATED FARMERS SOUND-OFF ON RATES INCREASES

 10 June 2008

It is that time of year when councils plan their rate increases. Not exactly a popular topic, but one that gets much attention from Federated Farmers.

Most folk run a mile from the two-inch thick annual and long term plans that set out council’s spending and rating intentions for the coming year, but not Federated Farmers. Those plans are the basis of members rates invoice, and too many farmers are now paying rates in excess of $10,000 a year.

Escalating rates bills will be a blow for a great many farmers under financial stress from the high dollar, increasing farm expenses, and the summer dry. The last ten years has seen huge growth in local government activity and expenditure, with staggering rates increases for many farmers. The extent to which the cost of rates is affecting primary industry is reflected in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s monitor farms – where rates are often in the top six farm working expenses. Anyone trying to make a living from farming knows how it stacks up.

The real concern is that our modern local government is empowered to do pretty much anything, but is restricted to a narrow, medieval funding base made up of property value rates and property charges. Confusing at best, rates prevent communities from assessing the costs and benefits of council activities. For farmers it means a particularly heavy tax on their most significant asset – land – to pay for all manner of community services, many of which farmers rarely if ever use.

The Federation is once again gearing up its rates efforts. At a local level it will be submitting on over 60 draft annual plans from the far north to the deep south, working within the rules of the game to achieve fairer rating systems and lower rates. A Rates Guide and a standard submission template have also been prepared to help individual members with their own submissions. To access these tools members can contact 0800 327 646.

Although our local work is invaluable and achieves a number of ‘wins’, the real change we all want is only going to be possible by changing the rules of the game.

At a national level the Federation is continuing to keep the heat on the government to change these rules. This involves behind the scenes lobbying to influence the government’s consideration of last year’s Rates Inquiry report. Federated Farmers is meeting with politicians of all persuasion and publicly highlighting the inequities of property value-based rates.

Rates Inquiry – What Feds Want
Federated Farmers wants councils to:
* Move away from fully-funding depreciation and take better account of inter-generational equity through prudent use of debt

* Make greater use of targeted rates to ensure that there is a better link between the funding of services and a resident’s access to and benefit from such services.

* Provide ratepayers with itemised rates assessments, report financial information consistently to enable comparisons, and participate in performance benchmarking

Federated Farmers wants central government to:

* Provide more revenue from petrol taxes and road user charges to ensure that local roads (like state highways) are funded according to road use rather than property value.
* Commit funds to councils if it is imposing increased roles, responsibilities and costs on councils.
*  Commit one cent of the 12.5 cents of GST as a general revenue share for local government.
*  Remove all rating exemptions on land, including Department of Conservation land.
* Make it clear that central government retains all responsibility for income redistribution and that this is not a role for councils. RETURN TO FRONT PAGE

A Clayton’s Commissioner?

The office of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner was created in 2004 – supposedly to enable the public to seek redress regarding inappropriate conduct of judges.  I say supposedly, because of 106 complaints, in the 2005-2006 year alone, none warranted a recommendation to the Attorney-General to appoint a Judicial Conduct Panel for review. Although six were referred to the head of the bench for further consideration the way this office is structured means that the Commissioner is the sole gatekeeper to any complaint – there is no alternative avenue of redress at the initial stage, such as a lay observer, if the Commissioner declines to take further action. Given this lack of accountability cynics could argue that it would be all too easy to use a few token referrals for cosmetic purposes, thus masking rejected complaints of substance. The current commissioner is a one Mr. Haynes, whose curriculum vitae includes a stint as president of the Auckland District Law Society – hardly a ringing endorsement one would have thought considering the reputation law societies have in this country of bending over backwards to protect their own members; the Auckland District Law Society being the recipient of scathing criticism from the Privy Council no less.

So how does this office stack up in practice? Is it a genuine attempt to call judges to account for inappropriate behavior, or is it more like what Louise Nicolas experienced when she initially tried to lay a complaint – all too incestuous for comfort? Consider the following: –

In March 2000 I was unfortunate enough to be in the defendant in a civil action for breach of contract. The hearing was before Mr. Justice Gittos. A key witness-a warehouse manager-testified that counsel for the plaintiff had approached him with an affidavit to sign. This blatantly biased document claimed I converted my business partner’s goods, which at the time were stored in this witness’s warehouse. The plaintiff was in arrears by several thousand dollars in storage fees and it was implied by plaintiff’s counsel (according to the manager) that if he cooperated then it would make a difference to this outstanding debt being settled. This damming revelation (in response to a direct question from defense counsel)  was followed by a deafening silence. Yet no denial was ever issued by plaintiff’s counsel- just a cry ‘Your honor!’ It can’t be every day in court that one counsel is prepared to cast such a slur on their opposite number, so it makes even more remarkable that Justice Gittos chose to remain silent when it must have occurred to him that there might well be some substance to this allegation. The affidavit in question was undoubtedly genuine since it bore the legal firm’s letterhead. Further, the affidavit appeared to have been drawn up ad hoc without prior consultation, then thrown down in front of the warehouse manager for signing -which raises the question what on earth gave plaintiff’s counsel a reason to think the manager would cooperate with such a crass approach?

Under the statute that it operates, the Office of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner is obliged to refer complaints to the judge concerned for comment, unless considered frivolous; apparently my complaint was deemed worthy, albeit begrudgingly.

The response from Justice Gittos was astounding. He claimed that since both the plaintiff and the defendant were in dispute with the warehouse manager over unpaid invoices he felt constrained from perusing this matter further. To which I pointed out to the Commissioner that the warehouse manager himself had testified that there never had been any dispute with the defendant over unpaid invoices, and no evidence was ever given to the contrary. Rather than apologize the judge now attempted to defend the indefensible by claiming that since I was denied access to the manager’s warehouse this amounted to the same thing! He went further and suggested I should have gone instead to the Law Society or Police on such a matter – re his conduct or plaintiff’s counsel, I’m not quite sure. And Commissioner Haynes response? – he was only too happy to endorse Justice Gittos’ stance of speak no evil against one’s  fellow brethren.

‘Does this mean,’ I asked the commissioner, ‘if he himself was denied access to his office because his employer was in dispute with the landlord over unpaid rent, it was acceptable for me to write to other parties claiming the landlord was in dispute with Mr. Haynes over unpaid invoices ? And wouldn’t such actions be considered libelous? ‘

My concerns were dismissed as irrelevant and frivolous.

Who judges the judges might be an age-old question, but one thing is for certain that person shouldn’t be a member of the New Zealand legal profession.

Geoff Beach
Kohi, Auckland

So how does this office stack up in practice? Is it a genuine attempt to call judges to account for inappropriate behavior, or is it more like what Louise Nicolas experienced when she initially tried to lay a complaint – all too incestuous for comfort? Consider the following: –

In March 2000 I was unfortunate enough to be in the defendant in a civil action for breach of contract. The hearing was before Mr. Justice Gittos. A key witness-a warehouse manager-testified that counsel for the plaintiff had approached him with an affidavit to sign. This blatantly biased document claimed I converted my business partner’s goods, which at the time were stored in this witness’s warehouse. The plaintiff was in arrears by several thousand dollars in storage fees and it was implied by plaintiff’s counsel (according to the manager) that if he cooperated then it would make a difference to this outstanding debt being settled. This damming revelation (in response to a direct question from defense counsel)  was followed by a deafening silence. Yet no denial was ever issued by plaintiff’s counsel- just a cry ‘Your honor!’ It can’t be every day in court that one counsel is prepared to cast such a slur on their opposite number, so it makes even more remarkable that Justice Gittos chose to remain silent when it must have occurred to him that there might well be some substance to this allegation. The affidavit in question was undoubtedly genuine since it bore the legal firm’s letterhead. Further, the affidavit appeared to have been drawn up ad hoc without prior consultation, then thrown down in front of the warehouse manager for signing -which raises the question what on earth gave plaintiff’s counsel a reason to think the manager would cooperate with such a crass approach?

Under the statute that it operates, the Office of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner is obliged to refer complaints to the judge concerned for comment, unless considered frivolous; apparently my complaint was deemed worthy, albeit begrudgingly.

The response from Justice Gittos was astounding. He claimed that since both the plaintiff and the defendant were in dispute with the warehouse manager over unpaid invoices he felt constrained from perusing this matter further. To which I pointed out to the Commissioner that the warehouse manager himself had testified that there never had been any dispute with the defendant over unpaid invoices, and no evidence was ever given to the contrary. Rather than apologize the judge now attempted to defend the indefensible by claiming that since I was denied access to the manager’s warehouse this amounted to the same thing! He went further and suggested I should have gone instead to the Law Society or Police on such a matter – re his conduct or plaintiff’s counsel, I’m not quite sure. And Commissioner Haynes response? – he was only too happy to endorse Justice Gittos’ stance of speak no evil against one’s  fellow brethren.

‘Does this mean,’ I asked the commissioner, ‘if he himself was denied access to his office because his employer was in dispute with the landlord over unpaid rent, it was acceptable for me to write to other parties claiming the landlord was in dispute with Mr. Haynes over unpaid invoices ? And wouldn’t such actions be considered libelous? ‘

My concerns were dismissed as irrelevant and frivolous.

Who judges the judges might be an age-old question, but one thing is for certain that person shouldn’t be a member of the New Zealand legal profession.

Geoff Beach
Kohi, Auckland

So how does this office stack up in practice? Is it a genuine attempt to call judges to account for inappropriate behavior, or is it more like what Louise Nicolas experienced when she initially tried to lay a complaint – all too incestuous for comfort? Consider the following: –

In March 2000 I was unfortunate enough to be in the defendant in a civil action for breach of contract. The hearing was before Mr. Justice Gittos. A key witness-a warehouse manager-testified that counsel for the plaintiff had approached him with an affidavit to sign. This blatantly biased document claimed I converted my business partner’s goods, which at the time were stored in this witness’s warehouse. The plaintiff was in arrears by several thousand dollars in storage fees and it was implied by plaintiff’s counsel (according to the manager) that if he cooperated then it would make a difference to this outstanding debt being settled. This damming revelation (in response to a direct question from defense counsel)  was followed by a deafening silence. Yet no denial was ever issued by plaintiff’s counsel- just a cry ‘Your honor!’ It can’t be every day in court that one counsel is prepared to cast such a slur on their opposite number, so it makes even more remarkable that Justice Gittos chose to remain silent when it must have occurred to him that there might well be some substance to this allegation. The affidavit in question was undoubtedly genuine since it bore the legal firm’s letterhead. Further, the affidavit appeared to have been drawn up ad hoc without prior consultation, then thrown down in front of the warehouse manager for signing -which raises the question what on earth gave plaintiff’s counsel a reason to think the manager would cooperate with such a crass approach?

Under the statute that it operates, the Office of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner is obliged to refer complaints to the judge concerned for comment, unless considered frivolous; apparently my complaint was deemed worthy, albeit begrudgingly.

The response from Justice Gittos was astounding. He claimed that since both the plaintiff and the defendant were in dispute with the warehouse manager over unpaid invoices he felt constrained from perusing this matter further. To which I pointed out to the Commissioner that the warehouse manager himself had testified that there never had been any dispute with the defendant over unpaid invoices, and no evidence was ever given to the contrary. Rather than apologize the judge now attempted to defend the indefensible by claiming that since I was denied access to the manager’s warehouse this amounted to the same thing! He went further and suggested I should have gone instead to the Law Society or Police on such a matter – re his conduct or plaintiff’s counsel, I’m not quite sure. And Commissioner Haynes response? – he was only too happy to endorse Justice Gittos’ stance of speak no evil against one’s  fellow brethren.

‘Does this mean,’ I asked the commissioner, ‘if he himself was denied access to his office because his employer was in dispute with the landlord over unpaid rent, it was acceptable for me to write to other parties claiming the landlord was in dispute with Mr. Haynes over unpaid invoices ? And wouldn’t such actions be considered libelous? ‘

My concerns were dismissed as irrelevant and frivolous.

Who judges the judges might be an age-old question, but one thing is for certain that person shouldn’t be a member of the New Zealand legal profession.

Geoff Beach
Kohi, Auckland

So how does this office stack up in practice? Is it a genuine attempt to call judges to account for inappropriate behavior, or is it more like what Louise Nicolas experienced when she initially tried to lay a complaint – all too incestuous for comfort? Consider the following: –

In March 2000 I was unfortunate enough to be in the defendant in a civil action for breach of contract. The hearing was before Mr. Justice Gittos. A key witness-a warehouse manager-testified that counsel for the plaintiff had approached him with an affidavit to sign. This blatantly biased document claimed I converted my business partner’s goods, which at the time were stored in this witness’s warehouse. The plaintiff was in arrears by several thousand dollars in storage fees and it was implied by plaintiff’s counsel (according to the manager) that if he cooperated then it would make a difference to this outstanding debt being settled. This damming revelation (in response to a direct question from defense counsel)  was followed by a deafening silence. Yet no denial was ever issued by plaintiff’s counsel- just a cry ‘Your honor!’ It can’t be every day in court that one counsel is prepared to cast such a slur on their opposite number, so it makes even more remarkable that Justice Gittos chose to remain silent when it must have occurred to him that there might well be some substance to this allegation. The affidavit in question was undoubtedly genuine since it bore the legal firm’s letterhead. Further, the affidavit appeared to have been drawn up ad hoc without prior consultation, then thrown down in front of the warehouse manager for signing -which raises the question what on earth gave plaintiff’s counsel a reason to think the manager would cooperate with such a crass approach?

Under the statute that it operates, the Office of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner is obliged to refer complaints to the judge concerned for comment, unless considered frivolous; apparently my complaint was deemed worthy, albeit begrudgingly.

The response from Justice Gittos was astounding. He claimed that since both the plaintiff and the defendant were in dispute with the warehouse manager over unpaid invoices he felt constrained from perusing this matter further. To which I pointed out to the Commissioner that the warehouse manager himself had testified that there never had been any dispute with the defendant over unpaid invoices, and no evidence was ever given to the contrary. Rather than apologize the judge now attempted to defend the indefensible by claiming that since I was denied access to the manager’s warehouse this amounted to the same thing! He went further and suggested I should have gone instead to the Law Society or Police on such a matter – re his conduct or plaintiff’s counsel, I’m not quite sure. And Commissioner Haynes response? – he was only too happy to endorse Justice Gittos’ stance of speak no evil against one’s  fellow brethren.

‘Does this mean,’ I asked the commissioner, ‘if he himself was denied access to his office because his employer was in dispute with the landlord over unpaid rent, it was acceptable for me to write to other parties claiming the landlord was in dispute with Mr. Haynes over unpaid invoices ? And wouldn’t such actions be considered libelous? ‘

My concerns were dismissed as irrelevant and frivolous.

Who judges the judges might be an age-old question, but one thing is for certain that person shouldn’t be a member of the New Zealand legal profession.

Geoff Beach
Kohi, Auckland

So how does this office stack up in practice? Is it a genuine attempt to call judges to account for inappropriate behavior, or is it more like what Louise Nicolas experienced when she initially tried to lay a complaint – all too incestuous for comfort? Consider the following: –

In March 2000 I was unfortunate enough to be in the defendant in a civil action for breach of contract. The hearing was before Mr. Justice Gittos. A key witness-a warehouse manager-testified that counsel for the plaintiff had approached him with an affidavit to sign. This blatantly biased document claimed I converted my business partner’s goods, which at the time were stored in this witness’s warehouse. The plaintiff was in arrears by several thousand dollars in storage fees and it was implied by plaintiff’s counsel (according to the manager) that if he cooperated then it would make a difference to this outstanding debt being settled. This damming revelation (in response to a direct question from defense counsel)  was followed by a deafening silence. Yet no denial was ever issued by plaintiff’s counsel- just a cry ‘Your honor!’ It can’t be every day in court that one counsel is prepared to cast such a slur on their opposite number, so it makes even more remarkable that Justice Gittos chose to remain silent when it must have occurred to him that there might well be some substance to this allegation. The affidavit in question was undoubtedly genuine since it bore the legal firm’s letterhead. Further, the affidavit appeared to have been drawn up ad hoc without prior consultation, then thrown down in front of the warehouse manager for signing -which raises the question what on earth gave plaintiff’s counsel a reason to think the manager would cooperate with such a crass approach?

Under the statute that it operates, the Office of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner is obliged to refer complaints to the judge concerned for comment, unless considered frivolous; apparently my complaint was deemed worthy, albeit begrudgingly.

The response from Justice Gittos was astounding. He claimed that since both the plaintiff and the defendant were in dispute with the warehouse manager over unpaid invoices he felt constrained from perusing this matter further. To which I pointed out to the Commissioner that the warehouse manager himself had testified that there never had been any dispute with the defendant over unpaid invoices, and no evidence was ever given to the contrary. Rather than apologize the judge now attempted to defend the indefensible by claiming that since I was denied access to the manager’s warehouse this amounted to the same thing! He went further and suggested I should have gone instead to the Law Society or Police on such a matter – re his conduct or plaintiff’s counsel, I’m not quite sure. And Commissioner Haynes response? – he was only too happy to endorse Justice Gittos’ stance of speak no evil against one’s  fellow brethren.

‘Does this mean,’ I asked the commissioner, ‘if he himself was denied access to his office because his employer was in dispute with the landlord over unpaid rent, it was acceptable for me to write to other parties claiming the landlord was in dispute with Mr. Haynes over unpaid invoices ? And wouldn’t such actions be considered libelous? ‘

My concerns were dismissed as irrelevant and frivolous.

Who judges the judges might be an age-old question, but one thing is for certain that person shouldn’t be a member of the New Zealand legal profession.

Geoff Beach
Kohi, Auckland

So how does this office stack up in practice? Is it a genuine attempt to call judges to account for inappropriate behavior, or is it more like what Louise Nicolas experienced when she initially tried to lay a complaint – all too incestuous for comfort? Consider the following: –

In March 2000 I was unfortunate enough to be in the defendant in a civil action for breach of contract. The hearing was before Mr. Justice Gittos. A key witness-a warehouse manager-testified that counsel for the plaintiff had approached him with an affidavit to sign. This blatantly biased document claimed I converted my business partner’s goods, which at the time were stored in this witness’s warehouse. The plaintiff was in arrears by several thousand dollars in storage fees and it was implied by plaintiff’s counsel (according to the manager) that if he cooperated then it would make a difference to this outstanding debt being settled. This damming revelation (in response to a direct question from defense counsel)  was followed by a deafening silence. Yet no denial was ever issued by plaintiff’s counsel- just a cry ‘Your honor!’ It can’t be every day in court that one counsel is prepared to cast such a slur on their opposite number, so it makes even more remarkable that Justice Gittos chose to remain silent when it must have occurred to him that there might well be some substance to this allegation. The affidavit in question was undoubtedly genuine since it bore the legal firm’s letterhead. Further, the affidavit appeared to have been drawn up ad hoc without prior consultation, then thrown down in front of the warehouse manager for signing -which raises the question what on earth gave plaintiff’s counsel a reason to think the manager would cooperate with such a crass approach?

Under the statute that it operates, the Office of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner is obliged to refer complaints to the judge concerned for comment, unless considered frivolous; apparently my complaint was deemed worthy, albeit begrudgingly.

The response from Justice Gittos was astounding. He claimed that since both the plaintiff and the defendant were in dispute with the warehouse manager over unpaid invoices he felt constrained from perusing this matter further. To which I pointed out to the Commissioner that the warehouse manager himself had testified that there never had been any dispute with the defendant over unpaid invoices, and no evidence was ever given to the contrary. Rather than apologize the judge now attempted to defend the indefensible by claiming that since I was denied access to the manager’s warehouse this amounted to the same thing! He went further and suggested I should have gone instead to the Law Society or Police on such a matter – re his conduct or plaintiff’s counsel, I’m not quite sure. And Commissioner Haynes response? – he was only too happy to endorse Justice Gittos’ stance of speak no evil against one’s  fellow brethren.

‘Does this mean,’ I asked the commissioner, ‘if he himself was denied access to his office because his employer was in dispute with the landlord over unpaid rent, it was acceptable for me to write to other parties claiming the landlord was in dispute with Mr. Haynes over unpaid invoices ? And wouldn’t such actions be considered libelous? ‘

My concerns were dismissed as irrelevant and frivolous.

Who judges the judges might be an age-old question, but one thing is for certain that person shouldn’t be a member of the New Zealand legal profession.

Geoff Beach
Kohi, Auckland

So how does this office stack up in practice? Is it a genuine attempt to call judges to account for inappropriate behavior, or is it more like what Louise Nicolas experienced when she initially tried to lay a complaint – all too incestuous for comfort? Consider the following: –

In March 2000 I was unfortunate enough to be in the defendant in a civil action for breach of contract. The hearing was before Mr. Justice Gittos. A key witness-a warehouse manager-testified that counsel for the plaintiff had approached him with an affidavit to sign. This blatantly biased document claimed I converted my business partner’s goods, which at the time were stored in this witness’s warehouse. The plaintiff was in arrears by several thousand dollars in storage fees and it was implied by plaintiff’s counsel (according to the manager) that if he cooperated then it would make a difference to this outstanding debt being settled. This damming revelation (in response to a direct question from defense counsel)  was followed by a deafening silence. Yet no denial was ever issued by plaintiff’s counsel- just a cry ‘Your honor!’ It can’t be every day in court that one counsel is prepared to cast such a slur on their opposite number, so it makes even more remarkable that Justice Gittos chose to remain silent when it must have occurred to him that there might well be some substance to this allegation. The affidavit in question was undoubtedly genuine since it bore the legal firm’s letterhead. Further, the affidavit appeared to have been drawn up ad hoc without prior consultation, then thrown down in front of the warehouse manager for signing -which raises the question what on earth gave plaintiff’s counsel a reason to think the manager would cooperate with such a crass approach?

Under the statute that it operates, the Office of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner is obliged to refer complaints to the judge concerned for comment, unless considered frivolous; apparently my complaint was deemed worthy, albeit begrudgingly.

The response from Justice Gittos was astounding. He claimed that since both the plaintiff and the defendant were in dispute with the warehouse manager over unpaid invoices he felt constrained from perusing this matter further. To which I pointed out to the Commissioner that the warehouse manager himself had testified that there never had been any dispute with the defendant over unpaid invoices, and no evidence was ever given to the contrary. Rather than apologize the judge now attempted to defend the indefensible by claiming that since I was denied access to the manager’s warehouse this amounted to the same thing! He went further and suggested I should have gone instead to the Law Society or Police on such a matter – re his conduct or plaintiff’s counsel, I’m not quite sure. And Commissioner Haynes response? – he was only too happy to endorse Justice Gittos’ stance of speak no evil against one’s  fellow brethren.

‘Does this mean,’ I asked the commissioner, ‘if he himself was denied access to his office because his employer was in dispute with the landlord over unpaid rent, it was acceptable for me to write to other parties claiming the landlord was in dispute with Mr. Haynes over unpaid invoices ? And wouldn’t such actions be considered libelous? ‘

My concerns were dismissed as irrelevant and frivolous.

Who judges the judges might be an age-old question, but one thing is for certain that person shouldn’t be a member of the New Zealand legal profession.

Geoff Beach
Kohi, Auckland

So how does this office stack up in practice? Is it a genuine attempt to call judges to account for inappropriate behavior, or is it more like what Louise Nicolas experienced when she initially tried to lay a complaint – all too incestuous for comfort? Consider the following: –

In March 2000 I was unfortunate enough to be in the defendant in a civil action for breach of contract. The hearing was before Mr. Justice Gittos. A key witness-a warehouse manager-testified that counsel for the plaintiff had approached him with an affidavit to sign. This blatantly biased document claimed I converted my business partner’s goods, which at the time were stored in this witness’s warehouse. The plaintiff was in arrears by several thousand dollars in storage fees and it was implied by plaintiff’s counsel (according to the manager) that if he cooperated then it would make a difference to this outstanding debt being settled. This damming revelation (in response to a direct question from defense counsel)  was followed by a deafening silence. Yet no denial was ever issued by plaintiff’s counsel- just a cry ‘Your honor!’ It can’t be every day in court that one counsel is prepared to cast such a slur on their opposite number, so it makes even more remarkable that Justice Gittos chose to remain silent when it must have occurred to him that there might well be some substance to this allegation. The affidavit in question was undoubtedly genuine since it bore the legal firm’s letterhead. Further, the affidavit appeared to have been drawn up ad hoc without prior consultation, then thrown down in front of the warehouse manager for signing -which raises the question what on earth gave plaintiff’s counsel a reason to think the manager would cooperate with such a crass approach?

Under the statute that it operates, the Office of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner is obliged to refer complaints to the judge concerned for comment, unless considered frivolous; apparently my complaint was deemed worthy, albeit begrudgingly.

The response from Justice Gittos was astounding. He claimed that since both the plaintiff and the defendant were in dispute with the warehouse manager over unpaid invoices he felt constrained from perusing this matter further. To which I pointed out to the Commissioner that the warehouse manager himself had testified that there never had been any dispute with the defendant over unpaid invoices, and no evidence was ever given to the contrary. Rather than apologize the judge now attempted to defend the indefensible by claiming that since I was denied access to the manager’s warehouse this amounted to the same thing! He went further and suggested I should have gone instead to the Law Society or Police on such a matter – re his conduct or plaintiff’s counsel, I’m not quite sure. And Commissioner Haynes response? – he was only too happy to endorse Justice Gittos’ stance of speak no evil against one’s  fellow brethren.

‘Does this mean,’ I asked the commissioner, ‘if he himself was denied access to his office because his employer was in dispute with the landlord over unpaid rent, it was acceptable for me to write to other parties claiming the landlord was in dispute with Mr. Haynes over unpaid invoices ? And wouldn’t such actions be considered libelous? ‘

My concerns were dismissed as irrelevant and frivolous.

Who judges the judges might be an age-old question, but one thing is for certain that person shouldn’t be a member of the New Zealand legal profession.

Geoff Beach
Kohi, Auckland

So how does this office stack up in practice? Is it a genuine attempt to call judges to account for inappropriate behavior, or is it more like what Louise Nicolas experienced when she initially tried to lay a complaint – all too incestuous for comfort? Consider the following: –

In March 2000 I was unfortunate enough to be in the defendant in a civil action for breach of contract. The hearing was before Mr. Justice Gittos. A key witness-a warehouse manager-testified that counsel for the plaintiff had approached him with an affidavit to sign. This blatantly biased document claimed I converted my business partner’s goods, which at the time were stored in this witness’s warehouse. The plaintiff was in arrears by several thousand dollars in storage fees and it was implied by plaintiff’s counsel (according to the manager) that if he cooperated then it would make a difference to this outstanding debt being settled. This damming revelation (in response to a direct question from defense counsel)  was followed by a deafening silence. Yet no denial was ever issued by plaintiff’s counsel- just a cry ‘Your honor!’ It can’t be every day in court that one counsel is prepared to cast such a slur on their opposite number, so it makes even more remarkable that Justice Gittos chose to remain silent when it must have occurred to him that there might well be some substance to this allegation. The affidavit in question was undoubtedly genuine since it bore the legal firm’s letterhead. Further, the affidavit appeared to have been drawn up ad hoc without prior consultation, then thrown down in front of the warehouse manager for signing -which raises the question what on earth gave plaintiff’s counsel a reason to think the manager would cooperate with such a crass approach?

Under the statute that it operates, the Office of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner is obliged to refer complaints to the judge concerned for comment, unless considered frivolous; apparently my complaint was deemed worthy, albeit begrudgingly.

The response from Justice Gittos was astounding. He claimed that since both the plaintiff and the defendant were in dispute with the warehouse manager over unpaid invoices he felt constrained from perusing this matter further. To which I pointed out to the Commissioner that the warehouse manager himself had testified that there never had been any dispute with the defendant over unpaid invoices, and no evidence was ever given to the contrary. Rather than apologize the judge now attempted to defend the indefensible by claiming that since I was denied access to the manager’s warehouse this amounted to the same thing! He went further and suggested I should have gone instead to the Law Society or Police on such a matter – re his conduct or plaintiff’s counsel, I’m not quite sure. And Commissioner Haynes response? – he was only too happy to endorse Justice Gittos’ stance of speak no evil against one’s  fellow brethren.

‘Does this mean,’ I asked the commissioner, ‘if he himself was denied access to his office because his employer was in dispute with the landlord over unpaid rent, it was acceptable for me to write to other parties claiming the landlord was in dispute with Mr. Haynes over unpaid invoices ? And wouldn’t such actions be considered libelous? ‘

My concerns were dismissed as irrelevant and frivolous.

Who judges the judges might be an age-old question, but one thing is for certain that person shouldn’t be a member of the New Zealand legal profession.

Geoff Beach
Kohi, Auckland

So how does this office stack up in practice? Is it a genuine attempt to call judges to account for inappropriate behavior, or is it more like what Louise Nicolas experienced when she initially tried to lay a complaint – all too incestuous for comfort? Consider the following: –

In March 2000 I was unfortunate enough to be in the defendant in a civil action for breach of contract. The hearing was before Mr. Justice Gittos. A key witness-a warehouse manager-testified that counsel for the plaintiff had approached him with an affidavit to sign. This blatantly biased document claimed I converted my business partner’s goods, which at the time were stored in this witness’s warehouse. The plaintiff was in arrears by several thousand dollars in storage fees and it was implied by plaintiff’s counsel (according to the manager) that if he cooperated then it would make a difference to this outstanding debt being settled. This damming revelation (in response to a direct question from defense counsel)  was followed by a deafening silence. Yet no denial was ever issued by plaintiff’s counsel- just a cry ‘Your honor!’ It can’t be every day in court that one counsel is prepared to cast such a slur on their opposite number, so it makes even more remarkable that Justice Gittos chose to remain silent when it must have occurred to him that there might well be some substance to this allegation. The affidavit in question was undoubtedly genuine since it bore the legal firm’s letterhead. Further, the affidavit appeared to have been drawn up ad hoc without prior consultation, then thrown down in front of the warehouse manager for signing -which raises the question what on earth gave plaintiff’s counsel a reason to think the manager would cooperate with such a crass approach?

Under the statute that it operates, the Office of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner is obliged to refer complaints to the judge concerned for comment, unless considered frivolous; apparently my complaint was deemed worthy, albeit begrudgingly.

The response from Justice Gittos was astounding. He claimed that since both the plaintiff and the defendant were in dispute with the warehouse manager over unpaid invoices he felt constrained from perusing this matter further. To which I pointed out to the Commissioner that the warehouse manager himself had testified that there never had been any dispute with the defendant over unpaid invoices, and no evidence was ever given to the contrary. Rather than apologize the judge now attempted to defend the indefensible by claiming that since I was denied access to the manager’s warehouse this amounted to the same thing! He went further and suggested I should have gone instead to the Law Society or Police on such a matter – re his conduct or plaintiff’s counsel, I’m not quite sure. And Commissioner Haynes response? – he was only too happy to endorse Justice Gittos’ stance of speak no evil against one’s  fellow brethren.

‘Does this mean,’ I asked the commissioner, ‘if he himself was denied access to his office because his employer was in dispute with the landlord over unpaid rent, it was acceptable for me to write to other parties claiming the landlord was in dispute with Mr. Haynes over unpaid invoices ? And wouldn’t such actions be considered libelous? ‘

My concerns were dismissed as irrelevant and frivolous.

Who judges the judges might be an age-old question, but one thing is for certain that person shouldn’t be a member of the New Zealand legal profession.

Geoff Beach
Kohi, Auckland

So how does this office stack up in practice? Is it a genuine attempt to call judges to account for inappropriate behavior, or is it more like what Louise Nicolas experienced when she initially tried to lay a complaint – all too incestuous for comfort? Consider the following: –

In March 2000 I was unfortunate enough to be in the defendant in a civil action for breach of contract. The hearing was before Mr. Justice Gittos. A key witness-a warehouse manager-testified that counsel for the plaintiff had approached him with an affidavit to sign. This blatantly biased document claimed I converted my business partner’s goods, which at the time were stored in this witness’s warehouse. The plaintiff was in arrears by several thousand dollars in storage fees and it was implied by plaintiff’s counsel (according to the manager) that if he cooperated then it would make a difference to this outstanding debt being settled. This damming revelation (in response to a direct question from defense counsel)  was followed by a deafening silence. Yet no denial was ever issued by plaintiff’s counsel- just a cry ‘Your honor!’ It can’t be every day in court that one counsel is prepared to cast such a slur on their opposite number, so it makes even more remarkable that Justice Gittos chose to remain silent when it must have occurred to him that there might well be some substance to this allegation. The affidavit in question was undoubtedly genuine since it bore the legal firm’s letterhead. Further, the affidavit appeared to have been drawn up ad hoc without prior consultation, then thrown down in front of the warehouse manager for signing -which raises the question what on earth gave plaintiff’s counsel a reason to think the manager would cooperate with such a crass approach?

Under the statute that it operates, the Office of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner is obliged to refer complaints to the judge concerned for comment, unless considered frivolous; apparently my complaint was deemed worthy, albeit begrudgingly.

The response from Justice Gittos was astounding. He claimed that since both the plaintiff and the defendant were in dispute with the warehouse manager over unpaid invoices he felt constrained from perusing this matter further. To which I pointed out to the Commissioner that the warehouse manager himself had testified that there never had been any dispute with the defendant over unpaid invoices, and no evidence was ever given to the contrary. Rather than apologize the judge now attempted to defend the indefensible by claiming that since I was denied access to the manager’s warehouse this amounted to the same thing! He went further and suggested I should have gone instead to the Law Society or Police on such a matter – re his conduct or plaintiff’s counsel, I’m not quite sure. And Commissioner Haynes response? – he was only too happy to endorse Justice Gittos’ stance of speak no evil against one’s  fellow brethren.

‘Does this mean,’ I asked the commissioner, ‘if he himself was denied access to his office because his employer was in dispute with the landlord over unpaid rent, it was acceptable for me to write to other parties claiming the landlord was in dispute with Mr. Haynes over unpaid invoices ? And wouldn’t such actions be considered libelous? ‘

My concerns were dismissed as irrelevant and frivolous.

Who judges the judges might be an age-old question, but one thing is for certain that person shouldn’t be a member of the New Zealand legal profession.

Geoff Beach
Kohi, Auckland

So how does this office stack up in practice? Is it a genuine attempt to call judges to account for inappropriate behavior, or is it more like what Louise Nicolas experienced when she initially tried to lay a complaint – all too incestuous for comfort? Consider the following: –

In March 2000 I was unfortunate enough to be in the defendant in a civil action for breach of contract. The hearing was before Mr. Justice Gittos. A key witness-a warehouse manager-testified that counsel for the plaintiff had approached him with an affidavit to sign. This blatantly biased document claimed I converted my business partner’s goods, which at the time were stored in this witness’s warehouse. The plaintiff was in arrears by several thousand dollars in storage fees and it was implied by plaintiff’s counsel (according to the manager) that if he cooperated then it would make a difference to this outstanding debt being settled. This damming revelation (in response to a direct question from defense counsel)  was followed by a deafening silence. Yet no denial was ever issued by plaintiff’s counsel- just a cry ‘Your honor!’ It can’t be every day in court that one counsel is prepared to cast such a slur on their opposite number, so it makes even more remarkable that Justice Gittos chose to remain silent when it must have occurred to him that there might well be some substance to this allegation. The affidavit in question was undoubtedly genuine since it bore the legal firm’s letterhead. Further, the affidavit appeared to have been drawn up ad hoc without prior consultation, then thrown down in front of the warehouse manager for signing -which raises the question what on earth gave plaintiff’s counsel a reason to think the manager would cooperate with such a crass approach?

Under the statute that it operates, the Office of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner is obliged to refer complaints to the judge concerned for comment, unless considered frivolous; apparently my complaint was deemed worthy, albeit begrudgingly.

The response from Justice Gittos was astounding. He claimed that since both the plaintiff and the defendant were in dispute with the warehouse manager over unpaid invoices he felt constrained from perusing this matter further. To which I pointed out to the Commissioner that the warehouse manager himself had testified that there never had been any dispute with the defendant over unpaid invoices, and no evidence was ever given to the contrary. Rather than apologize the judge now attempted to defend the indefensible by claiming that since I was denied access to the manager’s warehouse this amounted to the same thing! He went further and suggested I should have gone instead to the Law Society or Police on such a matter – re his conduct or plaintiff’s counsel, I’m not quite sure. And Commissioner Haynes response? – he was only too happy to endorse Justice Gittos’ stance of speak no evil against one’s  fellow brethren.

‘Does this mean,’ I asked the commissioner, ‘if he himself was denied access to his office because his employer was in dispute with the landlord over unpaid rent, it was acceptable for me to write to other parties claiming the landlord was in dispute with Mr. Haynes over unpaid invoices ? And wouldn’t such actions be considered libelous? ‘

My concerns were dismissed as irrelevant and frivolous.

Who judges the judges might be an age-old question, but one thing is for certain that person shouldn’t be a member of the New Zealand legal profession.

Geoff Beach
Kohi, Auckland

So how does this office stack up in practice? Is it a genuine attempt to call judges to account for inappropriate behavior, or is it more like what Louise Nicolas experienced when she initially tried to lay a complaint – all too incestuous for comfort? Consider the following: –

In March 2000 I was unfortunate enough to be in the defendant in a civil action for breach of contract. The hearing was before Mr. Justice Gittos. A key witness-a warehouse manager-testified that counsel for the plaintiff had approached him with an affidavit to sign. This blatantly biased document claimed I converted my business partner’s goods, which at the time were stored in this witness’s warehouse. The plaintiff was in arrears by several thousand dollars in storage fees and it was implied by plaintiff’s counsel (according to the manager) that if he cooperated then it would make a difference to this outstanding debt being settled. This damming revelation (in response to a direct question from defense counsel)  was followed by a deafening silence. Yet no denial was ever issued by plaintiff’s counsel- just a cry ‘Your honor!’ It can’t be every day in court that one counsel is prepared to cast such a slur on their opposite number, so it makes even more remarkable that Justice Gittos chose to remain silent when it must have occurred to him that there might well be some substance to this allegation. The affidavit in question was undoubtedly genuine since it bore the legal firm’s letterhead. Further, the affidavit appeared to have been drawn up ad hoc without prior consultation, then thrown down in front of the warehouse manager for signing -which raises the question what on earth gave plaintiff’s counsel a reason to think the manager would cooperate with such a crass approach?

Under the statute that it operates, the Office of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner is obliged to refer complaints to the judge concerned for comment, unless considered frivolous; apparently my complaint was deemed worthy, albeit begrudgingly.

The response from Justice Gittos was astounding. He claimed that since both the plaintiff and the defendant were in dispute with the warehouse manager over unpaid invoices he felt constrained from perusing this matter further. To which I pointed out to the Commissioner that the warehouse manager himself had testified that there never had been any dispute with the defendant over unpaid invoices, and no evidence was ever given to the contrary. Rather than apologize the judge now attempted to defend the indefensible by claiming that since I was denied access to the manager’s warehouse this amounted to the same thing! He went further and suggested I should have gone instead to the Law Society or Police on such a matter – re his conduct or plaintiff’s counsel, I’m not quite sure. And Commissioner Haynes response? – he was only too happy to endorse Justice Gittos’ stance of speak no evil against one’s  fellow brethren.

‘Does this mean,’ I asked the commissioner, ‘if he himself was denied access to his office because his employer was in dispute with the landlord over unpaid rent, it was acceptable for me to write to other parties claiming the landlord was in dispute with Mr. Haynes over unpaid invoices ? And wouldn’t such actions be considered libelous? ‘

My concerns were dismissed as irrelevant and frivolous.

Who judges the judges might be an age-old question, but one thing is for certain that person shouldn’t be a member of the New Zealand legal profession.

Geoff Beach
Kohi, Auckland

So how does this office stack up in practice? Is it a genuine attempt to call judges to account for inappropriate behavior, or is it more like what Louise Nicolas experienced when she initially tried to lay a complaint – all too incestuous for comfort? Consider the following: –

In March 2000 I was unfortunate enough to be in the defendant in a civil action for breach of contract. The hearing was before Mr. Justice Gittos. A key witness-a warehouse manager-testified that counsel for the plaintiff had approached him with an affidavit to sign. This blatantly biased document claimed I converted my business partner’s goods, which at the time were stored in this witness’s warehouse. The plaintiff was in arrears by several thousand dollars in storage fees and it was implied by plaintiff’s counsel (according to the manager) that if he cooperated then it would make a difference to this outstanding debt being settled. This damming revelation (in response to a direct question from defense counsel)  was followed by a deafening silence. Yet no denial was ever issued by plaintiff’s counsel- just a cry ‘Your honor!’ It can’t be every day in court that one counsel is prepared to cast such a slur on their opposite number, so it makes even more remarkable that Justice Gittos chose to remain silent when it must have occurred to him that there might well be some substance to this allegation. The affidavit in question was undoubtedly genuine since it bore the legal firm’s letterhead. Further, the affidavit appeared to have been drawn up ad hoc without prior consultation, then thrown down in front of the warehouse manager for signing -which raises the question what on earth gave plaintiff’s counsel a reason to think the manager would cooperate with such a crass approach?

Under the statute that it operates, the Office of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner is obliged to refer complaints to the judge concerned for comment, unless considered frivolous; apparently my complaint was deemed worthy, albeit begrudgingly.

The response from Justice Gittos was astounding. He claimed that since both the plaintiff and the defendant were in dispute with the warehouse manager over unpaid invoices he felt constrained from perusing this matter further. To which I pointed out to the Commissioner that the warehouse manager himself had testified that there never had been any dispute with the defendant over unpaid invoices, and no evidence was ever given to the contrary. Rather than apologize the judge now attempted to defend the indefensible by claiming that since I was denied access to the manager’s warehouse this amounted to the same thing! He went further and suggested I should have gone instead to the Law Society or Police on such a matter – re his conduct or plaintiff’s counsel, I’m not quite sure. And Commissioner Haynes response? – he was only too happy to endorse Justice Gittos’ stance of speak no evil against one’s  fellow brethren.

‘Does this mean,’ I asked the commissioner, ‘if he himself was denied access to his office because his employer was in dispute with the landlord over unpaid rent, it was acceptable for me to write to other parties claiming the landlord was in dispute with Mr. Haynes over unpaid invoices ? And wouldn’t such actions be considered libelous? ‘

My concerns were dismissed as irrelevant and frivolous.

Who judges the judges might be an age-old question, but one thing is for certain that person shouldn’t be a member of the New Zealand legal profession.

Geoff Beach
Kohi, Auckland

IMMUNITY FROM SUIT ? – A CRUTCH FOR THE SUPINE

By: Colin Henry J.D.                                                   dateline: 24 May 2007
Mrs. Catriona McLennan provided a very useful summary of the criticisms that have been levelled at the Supreme Court’s abolition of Barristerial immunity (Law News Issue 35, 15 Sept. 2006).  None of those criticisms amount to anything other than fatuous excuses for sheltering a privileged profession from the consequences of their own professional indolence.  I have no doubt that if doctors had the power, knowing intimately as they do the unpleasant consequences of illness, they would contrive an immunity for themselves from all illnesses and diseases.  The arguments for retention of Barristerial immunity amount to nothing less fanciful.

According to Ms. McLennan, Dr. Farmer QC laments that abolition of the immunity will create expectations unlikely to be fulfilled.  While Dr. Farmer’s tender concern for the sensibilities of the “unlearned” public is indeed touching, he did not, because he cannot, cite any empirical evidence in support of this subject of his concern.  The lone case in the UK to which he refers can hardly serve to support his conclusion.  “One swallow does not make a summer”.  I, for one, would be more amenable to conviction by Dr. Farmer’s epicedium had he taken the trouble to provide supporting information from jurisdictions in which Barristerial immunity, if it ever existed, is now lost in the fog of the past.  Canada and the United States come readily to mind.  In any event, even if Dr. Farmer were correct, the provision of legal remedies is about neither the creation nor the dampening of expectations, but about justice.

Dr Farmer is said also to be concerned that before suits are brought against Barristers, appeals will have to go all the way to the Supreme Court in every case.  I am thankful to Dr. Farmer for this postulate, as it exposes the weakness of the premise on which his criticisms of the abolition of the immunity is based.  The predicate for a cause of action against barristers will not be the loss of a lawsuit.  It will arise when a barrister has provided service to his client at a standard below that generally considered to be adequate within the profession.  Whether or not the case concerned was lost will simply be the measure of loss caused by that dereliction and one of the determinants of damages.

As to the possibility of claims against Barristers being struck out, I am sure that Dr. Farmer well knows, from his immense experience, that that is part of the litigation risk attendant upon virtually every proceeding.  If the presence of that risk were to preclude the prosecution of claims, then the civil courts might as well abolish themselves, as there would be nothing for them to do.  On a serious note, however, persons daily make decisions which result in good money being thrown after bad.  Once again, Dr. Farmer’s solicitude for the financial wisdom of the public is quite touching.  Still, legal principles ought to be informed by the need to ensure the availability of justice, and not, like Dr Farmer’s concern, by the desire to teach financial husbandry.

The final stanza in Dr. Farmer’s threnody censures the Supreme Court’s decision for its encouragement of hopeless cases.  If the logic of this reasoning were to be adopted, then since the majority of appeals to the Court of Appeal are unsuccessful, the right to appeal ought to be abolished, as it encourages hopeless appeals.  If Dr. Farmer steps back from his visceral reaction to abolition of Barristerial immunity, I am sure he will see that the only encouragement it will in fact provide is to Barristers to deliver a level of service commensurate with the community’s expectations of them.

Disappointingly, our own President, Gary Gottlieb, adds his own Dies Irae to Dr. Farmer’s requiem.  He warns that he will now be too busy for “difficult clients”.  As I quite like Gary, I am so happy for him, to hear this, because he ought to have been saying that to such clients long before immunity was abolished.  It is a wise practitioner who threshes his potential clients.  Wheat from the chaff, and all that.

My first instinct, in response to another of Gary’s dire predictions is to say, woe to the judicial system, now that “litigious, self-represented litigants [will] be ‘issuing proceedings all over the place'”.  But, on second thought, it occurs to me that if those litigants will be issuing their proceedings “all over the place” then the courts need not be worried, since such litigants would not be troubling them.

I remain an active member of two Unites States jurisdictions, and I can’t recall any knowledge of self-represented litigants taking out proceedings in places other than the courts, simply because advocates are not immune, and neither have the courts had to deal with a flood of proceedings from such litigants.  However, if Gary has information otherwise, then he should share it with the rest of the profession, so that we can be appropriately armed.

Our President asks a most sensible question, when he queries why Barristers should lose their immunity while judges retain theirs.  That question, however, derives its cogency not, as Gary would suggest, from the unfairness of the new status quo, but from the injustice of permitting judges to violate law and standards without adequate remedy available to those harmed by their actions.  Unlike judges, Barristers are agents of their clients and owe duties accordingly.  On the other hand, judges owe a duty to society, whose agents they are, as well as a duty to the litigants appearing before them, to apply the law fairly and in accordance with the promises in the Judicial Oath.  There is no more logical reason to shelter judges from the consequences of violating those duties than there is to shelter Barristers from the consequences of their own negligence.  Justice Elias’ dismissal of the need for finality in litigation and avoiding abusive collateral challenge as justifications of Barristerial immunity applies no less to their use to support judicial immunity.

As to the issue of unfairness because Barristers will now be open to suit while being unable to sue their clients, because of “the intervention rule” (whatever that is), my understanding is that except in a very limited class of cases, Barristers are obliged to act under Solicitors’ instructions.  Their fees are thus owed to them by their instructing solicitors.  Where the client defaults, I know of no rule preventing a Solicitor from suing to recover a fee.

It is good to see our Supreme Court putting principle first in an issue which could easily have resulted in a self-serving decision.  I look forward to the continuing evolution of our jurisprudence in that direction.#
Mr. Henry is a Barrister sole practising in New Zealand.  The Auckland District Law Society refused to publish this article in its weekly publication.

Mrs. Catriona McLennan provided a very useful summary of the criticisms that have been levelled at the Supreme Court’s abolition of Barristerial immunity (Law News Issue 35, 15 Sept. 2006).  None of those criticisms amount to anything other than fatuous excuses for sheltering a privileged profession from the consequences of their own professional indolence.  I have no doubt that if doctors had the power, knowing intimately as they do the unpleasant consequences of illness, they would contrive an immunity for themselves from all illnesses and diseases.  The arguments for retention of Barristerial immunity amount to nothing less fanciful.

According to Ms. McLennan, Dr. Farmer QC laments that abolition of the immunity will create expectations unlikely to be fulfilled.  While Dr. Farmer’s tender concern for the sensibilities of the “unlearned” public is indeed touching, he did not, because he cannot, cite any empirical evidence in support of this subject of his concern.  The lone case in the UK to which he refers can hardly serve to support his conclusion.  “One swallow does not make a summer”.  I, for one, would be more amenable to conviction by Dr. Farmer’s epicedium had he taken the trouble to provide supporting information from jurisdictions in which Barristerial immunity, if it ever existed, is now lost in the fog of the past.  Canada and the United States come readily to mind.  In any event, even if Dr. Farmer were correct, the provision of legal remedies is about neither the creation nor the dampening of expectations, but about justice.

Dr Farmer is said also to be concerned that before suits are brought against Barristers, appeals will have to go all the way to the Supreme Court in every case.  I am thankful to Dr. Farmer for this postulate, as it exposes the weakness of the premise on which his criticisms of the abolition of the immunity is based.  The predicate for a cause of action against barristers will not be the loss of a lawsuit.  It will arise when a barrister has provided service to his client at a standard below that generally considered to be adequate within the profession.  Whether or not the case concerned was lost will simply be the measure of loss caused by that dereliction and one of the determinants of damages.

As to the possibility of claims against Barristers being struck out, I am sure that Dr. Farmer well knows, from his immense experience, that that is part of the litigation risk attendant upon virtually every proceeding.  If the presence of that risk were to preclude the prosecution of claims, then the civil courts might as well abolish themselves, as there would be nothing for them to do.  On a serious note, however, persons daily make decisions which result in good money being thrown after bad.  Once again, Dr. Farmer’s solicitude for the financial wisdom of the public is quite touching.  Still, legal principles ought to be informed by the need to ensure the availability of justice, and not, like Dr Farmer’s concern, by the desire to teach financial husbandry.

The final stanza in Dr. Farmer’s threnody censures the Supreme Court’s decision for its encouragement of hopeless cases.  If the logic of this reasoning were to be adopted, then since the majority of appeals to the Court of Appeal are unsuccessful, the right to appeal ought to be abolished, as it encourages hopeless appeals.  If Dr. Farmer steps back from his visceral reaction to abolition of Barristerial immunity, I am sure he will see that the only encouragement it will in fact provide is to Barristers to deliver a level of service commensurate with the community’s expectations of them.

Disappointingly, our own President, Gary Gottlieb, adds his own Dies Irae to Dr. Farmer’s requiem.  He warns that he will now be too busy for “difficult clients”.  As I quite like Gary, I am so happy for him, to hear this, because he ought to have been saying that to such clients long before immunity was abolished.  It is a wise practitioner who threshes his potential clients.  Wheat from the chaff, and all that.

My first instinct, in response to another of Gary’s dire predictions is to say, woe to the judicial system, now that “litigious, self-represented litigants [will] be ‘issuing proceedings all over the place'”.  But, on second thought, it occurs to me that if those litigants will be issuing their proceedings “all over the place” then the courts need not be worried, since such litigants would not be troubling them.

I remain an active member of two Unites States jurisdictions, and I can’t recall any knowledge of self-represented litigants taking out proceedings in places other than the courts, simply because advocates are not immune, and neither have the courts had to deal with a flood of proceedings from such litigants.  However, if Gary has information otherwise, then he should share it with the rest of the profession, so that we can be appropriately armed.

Our President asks a most sensible question, when he queries why Barristers should lose their immunity while judges retain theirs.  That question, however, derives its cogency not, as Gary would suggest, from the unfairness of the new status quo, but from the injustice of permitting judges to violate law and standards without adequate remedy available to those harmed by their actions.  Unlike judges, Barristers are agents of their clients and owe duties accordingly.  On the other hand, judges owe a duty to society, whose agents they are, as well as a duty to the litigants appearing before them, to apply the law fairly and in accordance with the promises in the Judicial Oath.  There is no more logical reason to shelter judges from the consequences of violating those duties than there is to shelter Barristers from the consequences of their own negligence.  Justice Elias’ dismissal of the need for finality in litigation and avoiding abusive collateral challenge as justifications of Barristerial immunity applies no less to their use to support judicial immunity.

As to the issue of unfairness because Barristers will now be open to suit while being unable to sue their clients, because of “the intervention rule” (whatever that is), my understanding is that except in a very limited class of cases, Barristers are obliged to act under Solicitors’ instructions.  Their fees are thus owed to them by their instructing solicitors.  Where the client defaults, I know of no rule preventing a Solicitor from suing to recover a fee.

It is good to see our Supreme Court putting principle first in an issue which could easily have resulted in a self-serving decision.  I look forward to the continuing evolution of our jurisprudence in that direction.#
Mr. Henry is a Barrister sole practising in New Zealand.  The Auckland District Law Society refused to publish this article in its weekly publication.

PARKING TICKETS CASH COW FOR AUCKLAND CITY

Dear Editior,

Congratulations on your web site and your commitment to exposing incompetence and corruption within our justice system, and local and central government.  I have encountered a little of it myself, and have found the experience completely life-changing.

Before my experience with the courts, I believed, like most New Zealanders, that we had a working and relatively reliable Justice System, based on the purportedly excellent British system, and equal to the best in the world.  Admitedly, I was apathetic, not interested in the issues that did not directly affect me, and thought I didn´t need to concern myself.

Nearly a decade later, I know the truth is very different.  It is now clear to me that not only is our legal system often designed to thwart the justice process, almost no one within the system gives a damn.  Most judges and lawyers seem thoroughly inured to the fact that the system is not fair, and frequently doesn´t come close to delivering justice.

My education began in 2001, when I received a $40 parking ticket for about 10 minutes parking without purchasing a Parking Receipt.  When I read the
relevant law, it was clear to me that the correct fine was $12, not $40, so I defended the charge in the District Court.

I was on firm legal ground.  The two JPs presiding ruled that I was correct, and that I should pay $12.  Having set a precedent, from that point, the fine should be $12 for that offence.  The Council declared its intention to appeal, but no appeal ensued…  Little did I know, that was just the beginning.

To make sure that the Council was complying with the Court´s ruling, I deliberately collected another ticket for the same offence.  To my surprise, the fine was still $40.  The Auckland City Council was disobeying the Court decision.  How?  I investigated…

What I found was pure legal chicanery.  Although the Court had correctly ruled on the meaning and the spirit of the applicable law, the Council already knew that it was onto a million-dollar-a-year winner.  It wasn´t about to give that up.  Instead, the Council found a legal way to flout the law by changing one word of the charge from “current” to “valid”.  Ethics, justice, or what is right obviously had nothing to do with it.

A Candy
Aka The Parking Rebel
Grey Lynn

 

ALBERT PARK THREATENED BY DEVELOPMENT

Dear Editor,

I lodged an appeal in the Environment Court against Auckland City’s plans to hack into historic Albert Park and quite a few beautiful mature trees in order to construct a most unsuitable building as an extension to the Auckland Art Gallery on Kichener Street.

Mediation with the Auckland City after the farcical consultation process was useless – the three Commissioners engaged by the City for consultations effectively handed all responsibility back to the City to interpret as it chose.  While the backers preferred everyone focus on the controversial design produced for the site, the real issue lies in the enormity of the piece of parkland being, I consider, misappropriated for the purpose.  Auckland City’s claims that the effects would be minor were the understatement of the year.  The design concept produced at the hearings did not appear to be drawn to scale, with the effect that no one could be held responsible for the extent of intrusion into the park for what was essentially a big private party room.

I have engaged a barrister who in turn has called on two expert consultants.  I am told if I can find sufficient people opposed to the development, an application can be made to the Ministry of the Environment for limited assistance on costs to fight this.

I have no personal vested interest in this fight, just a desire to hold Auckland City accountable to the laws that protect this historic Park.  I would appreciate a show of hands before it is too late.

Best regards,

C. Van Camp
Remuera
To express support, contact cvc@slingshot.co.nz

 

JADED TRUTH

Dear Editor,

I lost faith in the media when I was a successful industry figure whom reporters sought out periodically for input on relevant news stories of the day.   Without exception, the reporter always had their angle on the story determined before we met or spoke.  This invariably led to the story taking certain ‘sound bites’ out of our conversation – and out of context – when my input differed at all with the angle the reporter had predetermined.  This experience has proven to be of great value in my ability to read between the lines of stories I see in newspapers today.

N.W.
Whangaparaoa