Judge’s book brings to life a time when the printed word was the latest thing in information technology.

Judge David Harvey's latest work, The Law Emprynted And Englysshed, is a gripping tale of the printing press as an agent of change in law and legal culture.

Covering the years from 1475 to 1642, Judge Harvey's research tells the story of how the development of the printing press brought legal texts and writings to many more folk than could afford, or share, jealously-guarded handwritten manuscripts.

Before discussing his work over ale in a discreet suburban location (where His Honour was clearly not unknown), Judge Harvey left his bag of garlic, crucifix, long spoon and stake outside.

Judge David Harvey.
Judge David Harvey.

"The other judges said I should come prepared for our meeting - just in case," he twinkled. "But I think I'm safe enough ...

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"The book grew in the telling. It started as a plan to research and write about information technology (IT) and its effect on the law, but changed into a historical study on the impact of the first IT on the law - mainly because the reverberations of the introduction of digital technologies are still being felt and will be for some time.

"A distance of four to five hundred years allows for more detached and objective observation."

CaseLoad can't say he's read all of Judge Harvey's book yet, but he's working his way through it.

What on the surface may appear to be (opinion withheld for legal reasons) is clearly written, extremely well researched and annotated and an illuminating scholarly view of the legal environment of the times.

For the record, Judge Harvey - known for his views on the Googling Juror and who is the local guru when it comes to the development and impact of IT within the justice system - is a District Court judge sitting in Auckland and a part-time lecturer in law and IT at Auckland law school.

He is a dapper, avid blogger and tweeter who, with 26 years judging under his belt, shows no sign of slowing down.

His book is published in the UK - where it sells for 56 - by Hart Publishing, of Oxford, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing, and in North America by Hart Publishing, c/o International Specialist Book Services, Portland, Oregon.

Judge Harvey's next work brings legal publishing up to date, including the information explosion of the digital age.

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Pointless Prosecution

Two workers died and another was badly injured when a man went on a shooting spree at the Ashburton WINZ office in 2014.

Now, government agency WorkSafe NZ is prosecuting another government agency, the Ministry of Social Development, for allegedly failing to ensure the safety of its employees. Other than ticking boxes in some mind-numbingly bureaucratic management manual, what's the point?

Fed-Up Judge Tells All

The following handwritten note - which purports to be from a disgruntled judge to his boss - was found the other day in CaseLoad's pigeon hole at the Ladies & Escorts Lounge.

"Dear (name and judicial rank suppressed for obvious reasons). In the four years I've sat on the (location suppressed for obvious reasons) bench, my disappointment at almost all I've seen has remained very high.

"Most of the rules which we have been given to follow are often idiotic, and no one seems to notice or care.

"The quality of justice we provide in (location suppressed for obvious reasons) is very poor indeed. No one cares. The efficiency with which we run the courts is astonishingly poor. No one seems motivated to fix them.

"These 'difficult circumstances' I hear so much about cannot excuse simple, persistent inefficiency.

"In general, the Probation Service is horribly below standard, and strangely pro-offender; we accept its recommendations, we nod stuff through. It's easier, and hey, we don't want to make a fuss, do we?

"Every single sitting, I document several miserable instances of institutional idiocy.

"There seems to be no will to do better or even to acknowledge how bad things are. We just push on regardless.

"Serious issues remain unaddressed for years by 'the correct channels' as you've termed them in the past, while my attempts to address them promptly and directly have been met by hostility.

"I have sat like a thorn in the side of the bench for too long, and your 'little note', and the back-biting it evidences, is the final straw. Finally, even I can't stand it any longer.

"I don't have to do this, so - effective immediately - I will no longer do it.

"If the public knew how we do what we do, they would be extremely angry, and rightly so."

(Name withheld by request)

"This has been pinched from somewhere else ..." said The Scunner.

For more from Jock Anderson's CaseLoad: tinyurl.com/pcjzw5b.