Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson said he had confirmed today that the Judicial Conduct Commissioner has received a complaint relating to Justice Wilson’s failure to recuse himself from a Court of Appeal case despite the nature and extent of his financial relationship with counsel in the case. …
“The matter is now with the Judicial Conduct Commissioner,” Mr Finlayson said. “The law requires that the Commissioner makes a preliminary examination, during which he may make any enquiries and look at any relevant court documents.”
“At the end of the preliminary examination, the Commissioner must either dismiss the complaint, or refer the complaint to the Chief Justice, or recommend that the Attorney-General appoint a Judicial Conduct Panel to inquire into any matter concerning the conduct of the Judge.”
The Press editorial also touches on him:
The Supreme Court’s decision last week to recall a decision it made earlier this year, and direct a new hearing of an important case because of concerns about the risk of the appearance of bias by one of its own judges, is unprecedented in New Zealand.
Which does show the system works.
It not only raises doubts about the judgment of the judge involved but it also re-ignites debate made at the time the Supreme Court was established about whether, with judges drawn entirely from New Zealand’s small legal talent pool, such problems are unavoidable. There is little question that, at the least, the episode is a serious embarrassment for the Supreme Court. …
At the time, the judge was a new appointee on the Court of Appeal. He was soon afterwards elevated to the Supreme Court, after an extremely short time on the Appeal Court and ahead of other more experienced and more intellectually distinguished Appeal Court judges. This lapse inevitably raises a question about whether he has sufficient sensitivity of judgment to entitle him to sit on the country’s highest court.
I will be interested to see the report of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner.