Saturday, December 4

Top-level lawyer complains about the saga of Judge Callinicos

A prominent human rights lawyer has accused the Commissioner of Judicial Conduct of creating a scandal that has implicated high-ranking judges.

No title

Judge Peter Callinicos
Photo: The District Court of New Zealand

It occurs when a police complaint is filed against two Supreme Court magistrates, two superior judges and the former acting executive director of Oranga Tamariki, alleging that they perverted the course of justice in relation to the ‘Moana’ case that is being heard by Judge Peter Callinicos.

Judicial Conduct Commissioner (JCC) Alan Ritchie launched an investigation after a media report revealed that Judge Callinicos had been contacted by Chief District Court Judge Heemi Taumaunu and Judge Family Court Principal Jackie Moran while the case was still being heard.

Judge Callinicos was presiding over the Family Court case in Napier, which involved Oranga Tamariki staff who wished to remove a Maori girl, known as Moana, from the custody of a Pakeha couple.

Former Acting Chief Executive Officer of Oranga Tamariki Sir Wira Gardiner contacted the Chief District Court Judge and Chief Family Court Judge with concerns about how Judge Callinicos had questioned Oranga Tamariki staff, claiming that his bullying behavior had left his staff in distress. It was then that Judges Taumanunu and Moran contacted Judge Callinicos.

In its preliminary report, seen by RNZ, the JCC determined that Judge Taumaunu and Judge Moran did not act inappropriately. Ritchie referred the matter to the Chief Justice for further consideration and suggested that the judicial guidelines regarding the intervention of the Heads of Courts be reviewed and improved when the proceedings had not been completed. Ritchie did not seek comment from Judge Callinicos in his investigations.

Tony ellis

Tony Ellis has filed a new complaint
Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

RNZ can now reveal that yesterday human rights lawyer Tony Ellis filed a new complaint, which had previously expressed concerns. His new complaint against Chief Justice Helen Winkelmann and Justice William Young alleged that they did not disclose to Justice Callinicos’s lawyers that they had been involved in behind-the-scenes discussions and Justice Young had drawn his own conclusions about Justice Callinicos’ behavior. without giving you a chance to comment. .

Ellis also asked Ritchie to excuse himself from hearing his new complaint because his decision to refer his previous complaint to Judge Winklemann “irrevocably compromised” his independence.

“I was more surprised by his decision, which I believe irrevocably compromised his own independence,” Ellis wrote.

He said Judge Callinicos sought the help of the Chief Justice to protect his independence from the influence he believed Judge Taumaunu and Judge Moran were exercising “improperly” over him.

Documents seen by RNZ show that Judge Young concluded that “there was an apparent pattern of intimidation.”

Ellis’s complaint read: “Judge William Young, in concluding that Judge Callinicos had made disproportionate and inappropriate comments, had made gratuitous criticism and engaged in what appears to be intimidation, following an investigation that did not he sought the opinion of Judge Callinicos., and not taking any action to seek that input himself, this undermined judicial independence. “

Ellis believed that the presence of the Chief Justice compounded the error.

He asked Ritchie to recuse himself. “Since these complaints relate to a decision that you have made and a process that you have followed, I begin by addressing your need to refrain from considering this complaint,” Ellis said.

Ritchie’s approach had created a “scandal” involving not only Justice Taumaunu and Justice Moran, but also Chief Justice and Justice William Young, the second-highest-ranking Supreme Court Justice, Ellis said.

“If my original complaint deserved to be referred to the President of the Supreme Court as you referred, this complaint is of a different and greater magnitude on the subject of judicial independence, and it is of profound constitutional importance.”

Judge Callinicos and his attorney were contacted for comment.

Judge Winkelmann, Judge Young, Judge Moran and Judge Taumaunu told RNZ that they could not comment on Ellis’s complaint since it was before the JCC.

The JCC was also contacted for comment.

Police report

Meanwhile, former attorney Frank Deliu wrote to Police Commissioner Andrew Coster on August 27 asking him to investigate Judges Taumaunu and Moran for perverting the course of justice by attempting to influence Judge Callinicos in a case pending before him.

In another complaint, filed today, he asked the police to also investigate the actions of Sir Wira Gardiner, Judge Winklemann and Judge Young in the matter. “Ex parte meetings with judges to discuss issues in a case are in themselves inappropriate and attempting a channel as a means to address a judge’s decision, that is, to file a complaint with the law society, clearly deviates toward criminal conduct, “Deliu wrote.

There was also no legal authority for Judge Williams or Judge Winkelmann to get involved as well, he said. “The Supreme Court has made it clear in Attorney-General v Chapman [2012] that the two appropriate processes to follow on concerns about a judge’s decisions are to appeal to a higher court or to file a complaint with the Office of the Commissioner of Judicial Conduct. It is not vital to a perversion charge that an actor is violating a separate law, but it is relevant if an actor is acting outside of their legal powers. “

Deliu, who left New Zealand after being accused of perverting the course of justice for allegedly intimidating two witnesses, said the same rule of law that applied to him should also apply to the judiciary. “When two judges try to influence a case, well, that also has to be a crime. And then when two more judges try to protect those two judges, well, that also has to be a crime.”

Police said they could not comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *