Editorial: Judge leaves himself wide open to criticism

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Financial analyst Guy Hallwright in court. Photo /  Steven McNicholl
Financial analyst Guy Hallwright in court. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Going by Judge Raoul Neave's comments, it would almost appear that investment banker Guy Hallwright was the victim of a crime, not someone found guilty by a jury of causing grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard. Hallwright, he said, was a man of "impeccable character" who was "highly unlikely" to have driven at Sung Jin Kim. For good measure, Judge Neave criticised the media for taking a "prurient interest" in the case.

This, however, was far from an ordinary incident, and was always bound to attract media attention. What is unusual is the way in which Judge Neave chose to interpose himself after the jury delivered its verdict. His role was to sentence Hallwright, not to effectively question aspects of the jury's decision and deliver a glowing testimonial based on his limited knowledge of the defendant's character. That served simply to highlight the sentence of 250 hours' community work, an 18-month ban from driving, and reparation of $20,000.

Associate Professor Bill Hodge probably summed up most people's view of the judge's comments when he noted, "I suspect someone who wasn't a merchant banker wouldn't have quite got the same consideration". Many of those people already had a jaundiced view of the judiciary's decision-making. The tenor of Judge Neave's comments simply added fuel to their fire.

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- NZ Herald

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