Former chief High Court judge Helen Winkelmann (56) is a clear leader in the scramble to succeed Dame Sian Elias as the next Chief Justice, according to the Ladies & Escorts Lounge's resident turf accountant.

"As a sheila, The Winkle is an odds-on 10 to one favourite," said A Big Bloke At The Next Leaner.

A judge since 2004, Justice Winkelmann quit her five-year job as chief High Court judge for a promotion to the Court of Appeal in June.

Her pay went from $442,500 to $444,000.

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Justice Geoff Venning replaced her as chief High Court judge.

Insiders reckon Justice Winkelmann's stint on the hard-working Court of Appeal will smooth off some of her occasionally-noticeable sharp edges and, unless her health fails her, prepare her for many happy years under the Biggest Wig.

"This will be a continued triumph for women on top of the law," said An Insider, who asked that he not be named for fear of tasting Her Honour's trademark boot.

"On second thoughts, CaseLoad, there might be a touch of whoopee in that," said The Venerable C******s.

On wages of $504,000 a year plus expenses, Chief Justice Elias (66) - who said she'd do the job for 10 years when appointed 16 years ago in 1999 - could hang on until she has to retire at 70, which would give Justice Winkelmann plenty of time to feel her oats.

Meanwhile, Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson tells CaseLoad some lawyers were recently made acting District Court judges (CaseLoad July 17) in advance of some judges retiring and will get permanent jobs in due course.

The law allows only 156 permanent District Court judges at any one time.

Finlayson confirms other acting judges were appointed, mainly to help ease increased workloads, primarily in the Family Court.

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Best of all, acting District Court judges get the same pay as real ones - $322,500.

Gender-swinging jurists all at sea

News Item: A new gender classification for folk who don't see themselves as just male or female has been developed and New Zealand will be the first to adopt it.

"Gender diverse" is now an alternative to "male" and "female" - which raises the question of what's in it for lawyers.

"What you need to come to grips with, CaseLoad," said Our Man At The Bar, fondly fondling his limp billfold, "is that all may not be what it seems in the gender diversity stakes...

"You see, all this talk lately about allowing legal folk to tinker with their gender may not be as confusing as first thought.

"Curious jurists unsure if they are Arthur or Martha, and unable to afford a full-length mirror to check, are now able to be either, or both...Whatever takes their fancy on the day..."

"This latest move slots in snugly with the introduction of gender-neutral judicial regalia as part of an inclusive new sexuality code that permits courtroom cross-dressing in Her Majesty's higher courts, " (CaseLoad June 12, 19 and 26)

"Aye, and that's not all, laddie..." said OMATB.

"But it's quite enough for now," said The Scunner.

Judge Billy Murphy talks

It looks like the "House Full" sign will go up for the Criminal Bar Association's annual conference in Auckland on August 1 and 2 - president Tony Bouchier having pulled off a coup by securing the international speaking talents of renowned US litigator Judge William Murphy.

Judge Billy Murphy. Photo / AP
Judge Billy Murphy. Photo / AP

Baltimore's "Billy" Murphy is a staunch supporter of civil rights and has been profiled as one of the best defence lawyers of his time.

Known for his folksy manner and long grey ponytail, Billy Murphy once played himself in an episode of set-in-Baltimore crime drama The Wire.

Back at the Bar, the former circuit court judge currently represents the family of Freddie Gray, a 25-year old black man who suffered a fatal spinal injury while in Baltimore police custody in April.

Opinion: Say what was going on, Tamati

A number of folk have asked CaseLoad when someone in the Tuhoe tribe will tell the truth about what was going on with guns and bombs in the Ureweras in 2007.

The issue of alleged "terror camps" at which a significant group of people - mainly Maori and others associated with long-time activist Tame Iti - were caught on police surveillance cameras training with guns and Molotov cocktails, was raised the other day by Tamati Kruger.

Tuhoe chief Treaty negotiator Tamati Kruger. Photo / Alan Gibson
Tuhoe chief Treaty negotiator Tamati Kruger. Photo / Alan Gibson

Kruger was chief negotiator of Tuhoe's Treaty of Waitangi settlement with the Crown in 2014. He chairs the iwi authority and the new board of Te Urewera.

Kruger is one of the most important men in Tuhoe. He talks, as many New Zealanders do, about healing old wounds.

He says the allegation Iti (63) put together a criminal organisation that was going to blow up buildings and assassinate people was not true.

So far, those who know the truth have remained publicly silent.

It would be good if Kruger would encourage those who were running about with guns and bombs to come forward and tell the truth about what they were up to and why.

Before any further attempts are made to re-write history...

CaseLoad, however, has little faith that those who know the truth will tell it...

Dancing with the cons?

Has it occurred to anyone that leaked footage of jailhouse fights in Mt Eden Prison might be a promo for another Julie Christie-like reality TV series?

From my cold dead hands...

In Texas, obscenity law makes it illegal to promote the use of or own more than six dildos. It is unclear how this law is enforced or if it still stands.

Coming soon

From Solicitors to Procurers - the saucy future of law...