du Fresne on Judges


I was reminded of that era last week when I read an excerpt from a new book called Grumpy Old Men, in which Auckland District Court Judge Russell Callander sounds off about some of the things that irritate him. No, make that many of the things that irritate him.

is in his 70s and sounds like a throwback to those magistrates I recall from the late 1960s. His is a magnificent rant that will warm the hearts of curmudgeons everywhere. Allow me to quote some of the juicier bits:

“People who dress badly when they appear in court can make me tetchy. Courts are solemn places: Not the beach or the public bar of the local boozer.”

“Epidermal self-mutilation with grotesque ill-drawn graphics so frequently flaunted by defendants, their associates, and witnesses are most irritating. When a man can’t even successfully spell four-letter Anglo-Saxon words, it makes me worry either about the standards of teaching in our schools, or the intelligence quotient of some of our more delinquent citizens.”

“Benefit bludgers and tax cheats make me growl with indignation. When people improperly take benefits, they steal from the state – from the rest of us who obediently pay our taxes. Often they have the cheek to look very disgruntled when they are caught, convicted and ordered to pay it all back.”

“A huge amount of court time is wasted by Maori activists who profess that Maori sovereignty renders them somehow immune to the laws of New Zealand.”

“And then there are the liars, the perjurers, the fabricators and prevaricators. Gone are the days when people admitted their crimes and told the truth. The oath is mainly meaningless. The mantra is ‘Get off the hook by any means’. It is shameful and destructive. It makes me not just grumpy but angry.”

I find it hugely refreshing that a judge should throw political correctness to the wind and so vigorously express sentiments felt by many of his fellow New Zealanders.

The Herald has a longer list of views from Judge Callander. I must go but his book!

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