du Fresne on Judges

August 16th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

writes:

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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18 Responses to “du Fresne on Judges”

  1. scrubone (3,044 comments) says:

    Well, if you want to know why people lie in court, you should just read up on the Brett Kimberlin saga in the US. Short story: the courts usually let them get away with it.

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  2. peterwn (3,143 comments) says:

    In Wellington years ago, there were the hard case judges Scully and Wicks whose ‘shop’ was now where the Supreme Court is. Not to mention Magistrate Murphy (the Thorndon street was named after him) sent from NSW with 5 constables in the early days to make sure Wellingtonians behaved themselves.

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  3. cha (3,779 comments) says:

    Surprise surprise, scrub is a fan of the other McCain.
    /

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  4. muggins (2,983 comments) says:

    I reckon I might but his book as well.

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  5. scrubone (3,044 comments) says:

    Surprise surprise, a conservative blogger is smeared in the blogosphere.

    Actually, I have only read McCain’s blog in the last two weeks (though occasionally before that). I’ve read about Kimberlin through Patterico and then Allergic2bull. I had heard about the smear campaign though.

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  6. Manolo (13,323 comments) says:

    This Judge Callander seems to be a fine chap.

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  7. Keeping Stock (10,092 comments) says:

    @ Manolo – I knew Russell Callander when he was practising law in Palmerston North in the late 1970′s. From memory he was appointed to the bench in around 1979. He is a man of absolute integrity, has common-sense in spades, and a very effective bullshit detector. That he is still on the bench now is commendable; he could be earning a damn sight more as a partner in a law firm, but he has chosen the bench as his vocation. I have nothing but respect for the man.

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  8. SW (213 comments) says:

    Yea, earning somewhere between $200,000-$300,000 is quite a sacrifice ha! I say that with full respect to Judge Callander, but come on, it is hardly volunteering now is it.

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  9. F E Smith (3,301 comments) says:

    Love it. There are a lot of grumpy defence lawyers who will agree with much of that list.

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  10. Chuck Bird (4,662 comments) says:

    He sound like a fair judge as the majority are but it is simple logic that a few rotten apples slip through. It is only logical.

    You just ask the public what they think of honesty of the average lawyer their replies will not be that complimentary. I have yet to be convinced there is a proper vetting process.

    It judges want to be respected they should do their job properly. That would include putting important minute/directions in writing and with a reason.

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  11. Kea (11,878 comments) says:

    Judge Callander is quite right. I suggest visiting your local Court on a busy list day and seeing the glorious spectacle first hand ! Pajama pants and Ugg boots are one of my favourites :)

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  12. mudrunner (85 comments) says:

    Please do use the link to read the Herald article.

    There is more that makes me happy, Callander’s comments, and what makes me sad, the dross the appear in front of him.

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  13. JMS (296 comments) says:

    Agree with most of that.
    But as far as bad dress sense is concerned, nothing looks more ridiculous than a street thug dressed in a suit and tie.

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  14. David Garrett (6,309 comments) says:

    JMS: There was an Australian joke from the ’70s and 80s which asked:

    What do you call a New Zealander in a suit?

    Answer: The defendant.

    How the average DCJ puts up with the sorry parade of the stupid and nasty parading before them every Monday morning is beyond me…

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  15. Keeping Stock (10,092 comments) says:

    Dead right David; and Russel Callander has endured it for almost 35 years. Whatever we have paid him in that time is richly deserved :D

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  16. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    That article was a fantastic read. The book is a ‘must read.’ What a wonderful turn of phrase to complement the good common sense.

    And amongst the humour, the shiny gems of truth. Such as:

    Certain guilty paedophiles selfishly elect trial by jury on serious charges of sexual violation of children. They make me more than just grumpy. They force innocent children to testify about traumatic and sensitive sexual issues in the usually futile hope a jury will acquit. They deny their offending. They lie through their fangs. And then, after being sentenced to imprisonment, they confess all to a prison psychologist and ask for a rehabilitation programme and the earliest possible release date. On the off-chance of an acquittal they aggravate the pain of their young victims.

    The parent in me suggests that such behaviour should attract ‘time added on.’

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  17. Kea (11,878 comments) says:

    A great trick is to bring in your crying meal ticket baby in an attempt to avoid prison or get sympathy from the Judge. Another good show is when some prolific criminal comes up for sentencing and the public gallery is packed full of his female admirers. Sometimes they drag the process out and get one of them pregnant, so the lawyer can spin the line he is reformed now he has a baby on the way. (sometimes they actually do changer their ways !)

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  18. Andronicus (219 comments) says:

    Of course some people have never owned a suit and tie.

    And many have tatts.

    But to leave school without being able to spell “fuck” deserves the gallows.

    Judge Callander is a grumpy old judge who seems to allow appearances to influence his view of those who appear before him. He is to justice what du Fresne is to journalism, a curmudgeonly pain in the arse.

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