New Zealand has an independent judiciary. Members are remunerated reflecting the need for them to be beholden to no-one. The salary of a District Court Judge is only $3,400 below that of the Deputy Prime Minister and $32,000 more than a Minister inside cabinet. I have no quarrel with that.
But with that appointment goes great responsibility. Members are charged with administering justice without fear or favour. And so it makes my blood boil to learn that District Court Judge Phillipa Cunningham discharged without conviction Karotangi Paki, son of the Maori King, on a raft of burglary related charges following submissions by his defence council that a conviction would make him ineligible to succeed his father as the Maori King.
It gets worse. We learn that earlier he had been conditionally discharged without conviction on a drink driving charge where he was caught with a blood alcohol level of 751 micrograms. In advocating for Paki his council paraded the same 'excuse'. For a person aged under 20 (Paki was 19) the legal limit is zero. For someone tested at 150 micrograms or more the options include a fine, 50 demerit points, a disqualification from driving and imprisonment. 751 micrograms is 4 times that trigger point.
I have no doubt that in both these cases, if it were my son (or yours), the outcome would have been far different.
Nothing about justice without fear or favour here. This is all about favour based on colour of skin and supposed family status. It's wrong, wrong and doubly wrong and Phillipa Cunningham needs to be called to account.
The NZ Police must take this to appeal.
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