Readers will recall I have blogged previously on Judge Callinicos who got pressured by the Heads of the District and Family Courts due to complaints from Oranga Tamariki that he bullied their staff in court.
Newsroom has reported on the Ombudsman’s review of a reverse uplift case (like the one Judge Callinicos was dealing with, and the findings are damning for OT. Some extracts:
Newsroom has been given a copy of Boshier’s final opinion by the Pākehā foster carers on their complaint.
He calls out Oranga Tamariki for a laundry list of questionable behaviours, including submitting misleading and unbalanced information to the court, flawed decision-making around moving the children, and contravening the Oranga Tamariki Act.
Perhaps most damaging to the state agency’s reputation is that it must ensure all documents submitted to court are accurate, and are reviewed “at an appropriate level” before filing.
“What the Ombudsman uncovered in this case is serious. I mean, it’s bad. It’s malpractice. It’s abuse of power. He has found they didn’t act consistent with the legislation at that time.”
She says one of the most concerning aspects was misleading information making its way into court, meaning a judge did not have all the facts needed before making the decision to approve the uplift of the children.
“What this report clearly identifies is that the decision was based on misleading and incomplete information. It wasn’t a balanced account. So essentially social workers were influencing the outcome by being selective. Now that’s not how the judicial process is supposed to work. The judicial process is supposed to work by all the parties, to a dispute, having the opportunity to present their evidence to the judge and the judge who is the expert in the law, makes what he considers or she considers to be the best decision possible in the circumstances.
So Judge Callicinos rightly criticised OT staff for acting in ways like that described above – and for his trouble he had two heads of benches (later joined by the Chief Justice) tell him he had to be nicer to OT.
There should be apologies flowing to Judge Callicinos from those responsible.