Friday, January 22, 2016

ON JUDGES

Judges are a protected species.   A District Court Judge receives a salary of $322,500 almost $20,000 more than that of the Deputy Prime Minister; enjoys a gold plated superannuation scheme and holds his/her warrant through until age 70 (and beyond in certain circumstances).     All that is right and proper.

But their protected status does not mean they are beyond criticism especially when they make a bad call.    And so it was that this week Judith Collins drew attention to the fact that Judge who granted bail to 35 year old Mathew Kidman, someone with a long criminal record, a history of absconding from custody and facing serious sexual charges, had done so against the advice of both the Department of Corrections and the Police.

Within hours of his release from custody Kidman cut off his monitoring bracelet and went 'bush' only to be recaptured several days later.  

Surely the fact that Kidman was a serial absconder should have sent warning signals to the Judge.     Bail is not an automatic right and, given his record and the nature of the charges against him, should have been refused.   That's what 99% of New Zealanders would expect to be the case.

Tony Bouchier, President of the Criminal Bar Association, went feral on Collins and accused her breaking the convention that parliamentarians do not criticize members of the judiciary.    Collins did not criticize the Judge.   She simply drew attention to the fact that as her two Departments had advised against bail they could not and should be faulted.    Nothing more and nothing less.   Bouchier is being precious.    One can only surmise the reasons for that.

Chris Moore, President of the Law Society offered a more balanced assessment when he noted that Collins was acting within Cabinet Manual guidelines as she was making an 'observation' rather than a 'criticism'.    Collins was further backed by several newspaper editorials.     By speaking out Collins has done us a service ...  bruised egos notwithstanding.


9 comments:

Angry Tory said...

Just goes to show that Ministers like Collins would make far better judges than most judges.
If we could be sure that only the likes of Crusher, Trasher & Basher were ministers - if we had a real government that protected freedom from crime - then that would be great. While unconstitutional Labour and Green MPs might be ministers then it's probably a bad idea.

Anonymous said...

I'm presently watching a family court matter from the sidelines. CYF, the lawyers and judge are awful. They cover their arses and are not accountable. Its a club where they act in a most unprofessional way. I can see why some get beyond the point of coping and do terrible things. At least CYF try so its incompetence rather than the corruption up the chain.

This is going to be anonymous, sorry.

Anonymous said...

Those who are too inept to run their own lives are the ones who end up in the Family Court. There are numerous ways to prevent the downward descent of one's life before things wash-up in a Court of any description. The Fami;ly Court is not a nice place for any of the participants.

Cadwallader

Anonymous said...

The value for money does not seem apparent, that's a big salary. I don't no how it works in NZ but I know several judges in the UK have been put in the same situation and when critised by relatives or the media point to the enormous pressure they are under to use gaol as a last resort because of overcrowding and budget restrictions.

The Govt. departments always deny this is the case. But as they denied similar edicts to the NHS doctors (GPs) then the public found they were lying I keep an open mind. It would not be the first time a public servant has been hung out to dry in order to enhance a ministers standing.

Lord Egbut Nobacon.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

For a second time, Legbut, I agree with you.

How's yout young brother getting on?

Anonymous said...

Maybe true most of the time Cadwallader but all it takes for disaster is one lunatic mother to mess with her kids heads and get shitty when they try to escape the control. Then she gets at her kids through the grand-kids. The judge likes her so were screwed - no one will ask the sensible questions that would see her come a cropper or drug test her. She's gradually coming unstuck but this disaster could have been avoided if the legal people did their job properly.

At least its encouraged wifey to buy a second house after some years of nagging to give the victim and child somewhere to live. What is surprising is that the cops are so sympathetic - they know bullshit when they see it but they still wouldn't lend me a taser to zap the problem.

Anonymous said...

Very well thank you Adolph. Just a an observation and not a criticism but you may want to ease up on the banning orders it reminds me of my time in Sth Africa.

The Veteran said...

In granting bail a Judge is bound by the Bail Act 2000. In determining whether or not to grant bail, a court has to balance the individual liberties of the person charged against the interests of any victims, the effective administration of the criminal justice system, and the safety of the wider community.

He/she is required to take account a number of factors including (but not limited to):

* the seriousness of the offence with which the person has been charged
* the seriousness of the punishment that could be imposed
* the strength of the evidence
* the person’s character and past conduct, particularly proven criminal behavior
* whether the person has a history of offending while on bail
* the likely length of time before the matter goes to trial or a hearing; and
* any other special matter relevant to the circumstances

The Judge will also be guided by submissions made by Counsel and other government agencies.

It seems to me that in this case there were a lot of 'down ticks' which the Judge chose, for whatever reason, to ignore.

It does concern me that the electronic monitoring bracelet can be removed so easily. Yes, I know that attempting to remove it triggers an alarm but I am only half joking in wondering why it can't be shackled to the person much like a ball and chain of yore.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Anon Egbut Cuzzie

Just read the rules and all will be well.

South Africa was a fine place last time I was there.