“Well bugger me – now I’m a judge I find I have the confidence to declare that I’m a Maori too”

March 18, 2015

A curious thing happens to lawyers – apparently – as they progress up the pecking order to become judges.

They discover they are indigenous persons – or become confident about declaring they are indigenous persons.

Alf learned of this phenomenon while listening to some members of the Maori legal profession questioning why the Government’s data on the number of judges who identify as tāngata whenua is out-of-date.

It should be a matter of no concern, in a land with one rule for all, if a judge can identify as tangata whenua, or as Chinese, or as Hottentot… or as anything.

The law is the law is the law and a judge is a judge is a judge.

If we passed the appropriate exams and followed the right career path, we could all be judges. And we should be colour-blind judges.

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Come on Amy – let’s scrap these restorative justice rules instead of waiting to see if they work

January 16, 2015

No, not all judges get it right – certainly not nearly as often as Alf would like.

But when it comes to who should decide when a cup of tea and a cosy chat is an appropriate way of sorting things out between victim and offender, we politicians seem to have seriously stuffed things up in June last year when we tinkered with the Sentencing Act.

We gave the job of deciding restorative justice is the way to go in a case to a touchy feely bunch of tossers who happen to be the providers of the restorative justice process that will be followed whenever someone pleads guilty.

It’s a bit like legislatively deciding that ice-cream vendors should decide when people should be required to eat ice-cream, then sending the bill to the taxpayers.

What a joke.

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Having fewer judges is more disgraceful than leaking a judge’s letter to Chris Finlayson

May 12, 2012

Our Attorney-General, Chris Finlayson, really does need to harden himself up for the rough-and-tumble of politics.

He sounded positively virginal when he chided his Labour counterpart, Charles Chauvel, for making public some correspondence from a judge.

“Disgraceful”, he thundered – or as near as he can get to thundering, which doesn’t get much above zero on a decibel measure.

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Oh, look – the judges are chewing up millions on travel and attending conferences

January 12, 2012

Nice work by Vernon Small at The Dom-Post today.

He has flushed out figures showing judges have clocked up more than $18 million on travel and accommodation over the past three years.

Among these were five overseas trips where Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias took her husband Hugh along at taxpayers’ expense.

Hugh who?

Oh, yes. Business tycoon Hugh Fletcher, who used to be chief executive of Fletcher Challenge and whose family’s wealth is reckoned to be $70 million, although Alf is always bemused about how the newspapers make that sort of calculation.

In thise case the reckoning was done by the National Business Review, which last year ranked the wider Fletcher family 53rd equal on its rich list.

Anyway, Hugh dutifully accompanied Dame Sian to the Caribbean Turks and Caicos islands in 2009-10 for a Commonwealth Magistrates Judges Association conference.

In the same year he accompanied her to the United States, London and Melbourne.

Perhaps she relies on him to keep her judges’ robes clean and ironed on these occasions, or some such.

So what are the rules about who pays for Hugh’s travels with his missus?

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Another ex-All Black has name suppressed – but that’s not how Parliament wants the game played

November 30, 2011

Are the bloody judges listening to we legislators?

Two court cases reported in the papers today have triggered this question and sparked Alf’s sense of outrage.

First, a former All Black who pleaded guilty to child assault yesterday was granted name suppression.

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Go for their sticks – that should nobble the sovereignty mob

July 25, 2009

Give ‘em an inch and they want the full bloody mile.

That’s how Alf sees things after a bunch of elderly Maori sovereignty campaigners declared their intention to extend their civil disobedience campaign from targeting judges’ homes to Prime Minister John Key’s Auckland home.

The group, led by Ngapuhi elder Tass Davis, plans to start the month-long campaign within two weeks. It will include “occupation-style sit-ins” at Auckland courthouses and private homes of judges.

Mr Davis, a 75-year-old former Auckland police constable, said there would be no attempt to force entry to Mr Key’s property they would wait until he was at home before acting. “We are non-violent. We will not use any force.”

Age does not seem to have mellowed the bugger.

And the PM’s decisions to promote Maori interests by – for example – throwing them a few buckets of your money and mine to talk about such lofty matters as a Maori flag obviously has simply driven Davis and his mob to push for more.

Mr Key was now a target because he paid “lip service” to Maori issues.

“Mr Key obviously thinks a few seats at the Cabinet table are enough to keep Maori off his back. I’m here to tell him he is sadly mistaken. Perhaps if we are camped outside his front door he might listen a little more to our concerns.”

The action’s aim was to force the Government into serious discussions over demands for Maori self-determination.

Disarming the mob, fair to say, won’t be too challenging for the forces of law and order. Taking away their walking sticks should do the trick.

Nasty implications in blood-test case

June 17, 2009

As soon as we save costs on one front – by running down the size of the police car fleet, for example – new costs pop up somewhere else.

A fascinating court appeal down south isn’t over yet, but Alf is twitchy about the fiscal implications if the ruling goes against the cops.

The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of a Christchurch man fighting against paying for his blood test.

The legal challenge could lead to multimillion-dollar ramifications for the Government if the many thousands of drink-drivers who had been ordered to pay the cost of blood samples each year claimed back the fee.
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