Rodney Hide: Naked judge loses credibility

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The judge has exposed himself to all and sundry. That's the nature of the internet. Photo / Thinkstock
The judge has exposed himself to all and sundry. That's the nature of the internet. Photo / Thinkstock

The nation's judges can cavort naked in private at their nudist clubs as much as they choose. That's their business. Live-and-let-live, I say.

But last week's story in this newspaper that full frontal nudes of a district court judge had been posted to a nudist club's website open to the public poses a number of problems.

First, the fiction is judges are beyond reproach. They preside with great solemnity and dignity and make a great play of the pomp and circumstance - all of which evaporates once you have seen this unfortunate fellow in his birthday suit, block and tackle on display.

For me, that is impossible to respect and his dignity is gone.

The pictures are out and they are circulating. There's a great deal of giggling and mirth at his expense. It may not be fair but that's life.

Second, the judge has exposed himself to all and sundry.

That's the nature of the internet. How then does he sit in judgment on sex cases, public indecency charges, or rule on the acceptability of pornography to minors?

To make a concrete example: how can he preside in judgment over a man accused of exposing himself to children?

Isn't that exactly what he has done?

Third, there's a credibility gap. Chief District Court Judge Jan-Marie Doogue is reported as saying: "An image of [the judge] posted to a website without his knowledge has just been brought to my attention."

The key bit here is "without his knowledge".

The explanation is that members give written consent when they join, perhaps many years ago.

It stretches credibility for me, but it is certainly careless and given the judge's role it is an integrity gap that needs closing .

Fourth, the Herald on Sunday chose not to name the judge.

His anonymity throws all district court judges under suspicion.

No one can be sure the male judge they appear before is not the one who thinks it acceptable to expose himself publicly.

Fifth, the pictures were removed once the Chief District Court Judge was alerted.

That suggests someone thinks there is a problem.

So what is the problem and how has it been dealt with?

So far, those who would sit above us in judgment refuse to judge their own and refuse the transparency their justice demands.

TV and radio frontman Paul Henry has gone into bat for the judge, declaring himself a nudist. That's very nice for Paul.

But Paul is not a judge and full frontals of him aren't available publicly online. Yet.

- Herald on Sunday

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