Punters reckon Queen's Birthday Damehoods for Justices Susan Glazebrook (for services to the judiciary) and Lowell Goddard (for services to the law) have skewed the odds for who could be next Chief Justice when Dame Sian Elias quits.
After initially saying she would do it for ten years, Dame Sian (65) has been in the top job for 15 years and is still five years away from the judges' compulsory retirement age of 70.
Observers figured Dame Sian's natural successor was Justice Sir Robert Chambers, but his sudden and unexpected death last year left a serious gap in the chain of judicial succession.
Left-fielders saw this year's appointment of Auckland Crown solicitor Simon Moore as a High Court judge as introducing an worthy "celebrity" candidate, albeit one who would need some good judging under his belt before getting the tap.
But for Justice Moore - credited with a fierce intellect and disarming common touch - to get an early look-in Dame Sian would need to stay on a bit longer.
For her to do that could be seen as a slight to other contenders.
So, back to Their Lady Honours Susan and Lowell.
Both are competitive and while Dame Lowell (65) may tick a few convenient boxes, observers rate Dame Susan (58) significantly higher in legal intellect than the first female Queen's Counsel.
One thing seems sure - the stakes have just been upped for who succeeds Dame Sian, who it will be remembered served only four years as a High Court judge before getting the top job.
Meanwhile, in other honours, Auckland district court judge Phil Gittos, former Environment Court judge Shonagh Kenderdine and Melbourne-based former principal Environment Court judge David Sheppard received the Queen's Service Order for services to the judiciary.
In The Case Of Orlov And Others
Evgeny Orlov has troubled the courts for ages, and - according to Our Man At The Bar - his plight is not yet over.
Formerly a colourful barrister working in Auckland, Mr Orlov was struck off following an accumulation of complaints to the Law Society and things generally going bad for him.
Not the least of the complaints against Mr Orlov - and one which sealed his fate - came from then Chief High Court judge Tony Randerson, now on the Court of Appeal.
Justice Randerson broadsided Mr Orlov for making disgracefully deliberate or recklessly false and scandalous allegations against High Court Justice Rhys Harrison.
For those determining if Mr Orlov was fit and proper to be a lawyer the attack on His Honour Harrison was the final nail.
Staunchly supported by colleague Frank Deliu (who has his own joust with authority) Mr Orlov fought for more than five years to fend off judgment day, battling through the courts with a variety of challenges to everything the Law Society threw at him.
A spanner was tossed in his works in March when High Court Justice John Fogarty debarred Mr Deliu from representing Mr Orlov in his appeal against being struck off.
The reasons are complex but essentially linked to Mr Deliu's role in various appeals and judicial review applications involving Mr Orlov.
Justice Fogarty, who has recused himself from hearing Mr Orlov's judicial review and striking off appeal, rejected Mr Orlov's bid to have his case heard by three foreign judges or three retired judges.
In accordance with tradition, the appeal will be heard by two High Court judges.
Meanwhile, last month, Justice John Wild rejected Mr Orlov's bid to review a decision of a High Court registrar not to dispense with security for the costs of his appeal.
While noting an unemployed Mr Orlov's impecuniosity was relevant, Justice Wild ordered he front up with security of $5,880.
More on the Case of Orlov is expected to unfold in Court later in June, but "it's not looking bright for him," said OMATB.
Seen and Heard (1)
Lady Deborah Chambers QC looked ravishingly stunning in Chancery the other day chipper that, as of last Friday, at least 150 legal folk - some in very high places - have signed up for this month's 1980s Auckland law school two-day reunion and knees-up.
"It's going to be a biggie," Lady Deb told CaseLoad. "One of the nice things about being a lawyer."
Fat Pat At Large
Now a shadow of his former self flamboyant ex-property entrepreneur Patrick Euan Rippin (aka by some as Fat Pat) could still enjoy a hearty breakfast in Auckland's CBD Chancery quarter the other day.
It was good to see the colourful character - once a regular darling of the social pages but now in old age and apparently plagued by depression - getting out and about his old haunts.
Pat was found guilty last November on a charge of concealing property from the Official Assignee as an undischarged bankrupt and was sentenced in February to five months home detention.
The amount involved was $277,709.22 and the offending took place over two years.
Pat went to the Court of Appeal in April to appeal his sentence on the ground that, as a result of what was said to be his deteriorating mental condition, it was manifestly excessive.
Lawyer Daniel Grove accepted the sentence was lenient - partly because sentencing judge Claire Ryan recognised Pat's depression and other medical problems - but said Pat wanted it quashed and substituted with one of community service and community work.
Pat's alternative solution had already been ruled out by Judge Ryan, a breast cancer survivor who once worked in Justice Minister Judith Collins' law firm.
Judge Ryan rejected community detention and community work not only because they did not carry the necessary deterrent factor but Pat would not be up to it because of his health issues.
Acknowledging Pat's history of charity work, Judge Ryan made provision for him to be allowed to continue charitable works and to have approved absences from home detention to do so.
There is a lot more to it but Judge Ryan was concerned Pat should be able to live a life "not entirely housebound."
Mr Grove told Court of Appeal judges Rhys Harrison, Pat Courtney and Denis Clifford that Pat was suffering from the inability to leave his house and do simple things such as go to a swimming pool or have coffee out to relieve the pressures of home detention.
Their Honours disagreed, saying just the other day Pat's deteriorating condition did not render his sentence manifestly excessive and there was sufficient flexibility to accommodate changes in his condition.
So Pat has to do his home detention as best he can.
Nevertheless, it's still good to see the old war horse back on the street and having a cuppa with chums.
What Judith Did In China
For her office to comply with a request made on May 7 under the provisions of the Official Information Act, CaseLoad looks forward to receiving this week details of Justice Minister Judith Collins' itinerary for her visit to China last October, plus copies of any speeches she made there and reports compiled on the outcome of the visit.
The requested disclosure - made in the interests of the public transparency advocated by Miss Collins - may put to rest niggles over what she did there and with whom.
Judicial Incident Not A Story
A group identified by a usually reliable eyewitness as "prominent legal big wigs" were involved in a late-night "incident" outside a private drinking club in Auckland's Princes Street.[Not the Ladies and Escorts Lounge].
Details are sketchy but reports of a spaniel being used inappropriately by jurists of both gender are "exaggerated significantly," a senior judicial communications advisor said.
"It's not a story any more. Their Honours got swept up in something they shouldn't have. Allegations some new "dames" took part is pure speculation..."
If you were there and have photos, don't keep them to yourself, share them with the world.
Seen And Heard (2)
John Delugar, Brett Abraham, Fiona Cowan, Sarah Vyleand and Peter Webb are partners in new Manukau law firm Denham Bramwell, offering services in property, estates, trusts, commercial and civil litigation, family and private client services from this week.
Lani Inverarity, Elizabeth Chan and Zoe Fuhr won this year's Law Foundation Ethel Benjamin Scholarship, established in 1997 to mark the centenary of the admission of New Zealand's first woman lawyer.
If all goes according to plan, Justice Ed Wylie is expected to begin giving his decision from 2.15 pm today (Thursday) in Auckland High Court on whether or not Epsom MP John Banks is guilty or not guilty of filing a false electoral return.
See www.nzherald.co.nz for details as they unfold.
Are there enough lawyers?