Jock Anderson 's Opinion

A weekly look behind the scenes of the legal profession and the halls of justice.

Jock Anderson's Caseload: Lady Deb's rollicking knees-up

3 comments
Lady Deborah Chambers QC. Photo / Greg Bowker
Lady Deborah Chambers QC. Photo / Greg Bowker

The Hooley of all Hooleys is to be staged by glamorous Queen's Counsel Lady Deborah Chambers and Chums on Friday June 20 and Saturday June 21 when Auckland University law graduates whoop it up at a 1980s reunion.

Tickets are selling fast for welcome back drinks at the Law School on the Friday, followed by what promises to be the party of the year at the Pullman Hotel "till late" on Saturday.

Thirty years on attendees in high places may regret instant Interweb fame.

See more here details here

On The Death Of Dick Savage QC

CaseLoad recalls the sensational 1970s trials of former Sydney abortionist Dr James Woolnough on charges of performing abortions at a Remuera clinic and the murder trial of Ronald David Bailey.

Both involved recently-deceased former Solicitor-General and Court of Appeal judge Richard Christopher (Dick) Savage (88) CBE, QC.

The abortion/anti-abortion war spilled over onto the streets, in a kind of better-dressed forerunner to the 1981 Springbok rugby tour demonstrations.

The Woolnough jury couldn't agree the first time, before Justice Graham Speight. Justice Muir Chilwell presided over a second trial a few months later when Dr Woolnough was acquitted on all charges.

Justice Chilwell then set out a case for the Court of Appeal as to whether his specific direction to the jury on the meaning of the word "unlawfully" was correct in law as it related to how abortion was defined in the Crimes Act.

So important was the issue at the time, Solicitor-General Savage was called in to argue the Crown's appeal that Justice Chilwell got it wrong and misdirected the jury.

According to Mr Savage's view the test Justice Chilwell should have applied was that to be lawful the use of an instrument to procure a miscarriage had to be done in good faith for the purpose only of preserving the life of the mother.

At the end of the day Justices Owen Woodhouse and Clifford Richmond agreed with Justice Chilwell, while Chief Justice Sir Richard Wild said Justice Chilwell got it wrong. However, the majority decision meant Dr Woolnough's acquittal was made absolute.

In dealing with the moral strand of medical ethics, Mr Savage concluded his unsuccessful address to the Court of Appeal with these words: "What we do today, others may do to us tomorrow, so it is crucial that the law be complied with, while it is the law, whether one thinks it is right or wrong."

Read more about the case here.

In another case which relied on his particular heft as Solicitor-General, Mr Savage prosecuted Christchurch man Ronald David Bailey, on trial in Greymouth in 1977 for the murder of his wife Margaret.

This was the trial of its time, partly because in a reconstruction of how Bailey claimed Margaret got swept into the Grey River - and out of his rescuing reach - local policeman Alan Liddell (22) drowned.

Waiting for a late night West Coast jury, everyone but trial judge Clint Roper and Dick Savage went to the pub. Mr Savage, who was troubled by family issues, walked the darkened streets of Greymouth.

Bailey was found not guilty of murder but while he thanked Jesus out loud for his verdict, he did not go free from the court. Bailey (who years later hanged himself in Invercargill jail) was returned to Paparua Prison to continue an earlier five year sentence for indecently assaulting boys.

It's fair to say the Bailey trial boosted the legal futures of his defence lawyers Nigel Hampton and Nick Davidson - now both Queen's Counsel.

In 2010, Mr Savage climbed into the mess which forced Supreme Court Justice Bill Wilson to resign.

Writing in the Dominion Post he said he was "appalled the chief justice, Law Society or a Bar Association haven't said it's fundamentally wrong that a senior judge should be attacked and publicly discredited when all the facts aren't known and he's had no proper opportunity to speak for himself."

"Amid all the facts, figures and dates reeled out when a chap dies, CaseLoad, it's useful to see something of the man," said Our Man At The Bar.

Nothing New Under The Sun

Just as peeved cricketers all over the place have rushed to deny involvement in match-fixing - as a hunt goes on to unmask who leaked the juicy bits everyone wants to know - Caseload is reminded of an "It's Not Me" panic by Labour MP's in 1976 when one of their number was charged with molesting boys in a Christchurch motel room.

The MP had his name suppressed initially but as hordes of his colleagues - eagerly egged on by slavering media - publicly denied it was them they effectively narrowed the remaining field down significantly until the suppression order was of little use and one name remained.

One of the many to divert attention from himself was former Justice Minister Martyn Finlay.

The MP in question was considered by some to be a too-bright intellectual, and despite the charges being thrown out at a depositions hearing because there was no case to answer - a decision largely due to the fine work of his lawyer Nigel Hampton - the man's political career was over.

In a 2010 interview with Wellington journalist Joseph Romanos the former MP said he had no reason to think it was otherwise than an attempt by his political enemies to get rid of him.

"I got more sympathy from the National Party than from my Labour colleagues," he said.

It's All About Us

It has yet to be clarified if folk support a European Union Court of Justice decision upholding something called the "right to be forgotten."

In a joint statement, folk whose names elude CaseLoad, said the so-called right to be forgotten "does nothing to put us on the map and there should be a law against it."

This Week's Question (In Two Parts)

(1) Are lawyers annointed Queen's Counsel getting younger or are the annointers engaged in age-ism against mature briefs and (2) could this be why veteran crime lawyer and former Auckland district law society president Gary Gotlieb has given up applying for the rank???

Does John Banks' Trial Judge Drive A German Car?

A fellow some say bore a striking resemblance to Justice Ed Wylie - who has been hearing the unusual donation reporting case against Epsom MP John Banks - was seen driving a shiny new Porsche Cayenne into the judicial carpark beneath Auckland High Court the other day. (Prices range from $127,800 to $278,200 if you must know.)

Meanwhile pay and display machines outside the High Court do not accept cash, only credit cards, because of continued vandalism.

These items are not connected.

Still At The Banks Trial

Justice Ed Wylie's punishment of TV 3 for broadcasting an in-court clip of Mr Banks apparently taking something from his ear and putting it in his mouth was to be expected.

It was a serious breach of the rules governing the use cameras in court - a privilege extended to the media at the pleasure of the judiciary.

The channel's cameras have been banned from the trial and the subsequent outcome, on the grounds they trivialised a serious matter, ridiculed Mr Banks, showed admitted bad judgment and broke the rules.

TV3 can't use the offending clip again, although it appears to be on YouTube.

This behaviour comes at a time when the performance of cameras in court is under review by order of Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias and does little to endear a media trying to do the right thing to a judiciary suspicious of motive.

It presents another hurdle for media wanting to increase photographic court coverage online.

Seen And Heard

*Corporate and commercial lawyer Mark Forman is now a partner at Minter Ellison, which is expanding its corporate team partners.

*Wellington film and entertainment lawyer Michael Stephens, managing partner of Stephens Lawyers, has been elected president of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand.

*Clarke Boyce lawyers have moved back into Christchurch's CBD to new offices in Durham Street.

*Former Brookfields partner and specialist family and relationship lawyer Janice Harland has joined Quadrant Chambers in Manukau as a barrister.

* David Chisnall, a commercial property lawyer and specialist in structuring, procurement and delivery of large-scale development project, has returned to the Bell Gully partnership.

- NZ Herald

Jock Anderson

A weekly look behind the scenes of the legal profession and the halls of justice.

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n6 at 21 Aug 2014 09:40:19 Processing Time: 567ms