A Hawke's Bay barrister was able to celebrate becoming a judge of the District Court in view of both her sets of parents on Friday.
Watching the swearing-in of Judge Joanne (Jo) Rielly were her birth parents, tuning-in from Australia, and her adoptive parents, present for the special sitting before Chief District Court Judge Heemi Taumaunu in Napier District Court.
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Among others in court were husband Tony Rielly, also now a former police officer, having recently retired after more than 35 years' service.
Becoming the latest of a string of judges appointed from the Crown Prosecutor team of Napier firm Elvidge and Partners and will sit in the Nelson courts circuit Judge Rielly told the packed court room of her days growing-up with her adoptive parents in Gisborne, and then as a young adult meeting her birth parents.
Out of it came a successful law student, graduating in 1993, a frontline police officer who became a police prosecutor in the courtroom, mainly in Hastings, and then, 18 years ago, a formal shift into legal practice as a Crown Prosecutor becoming in the Napier firm.
A product of co-educational Lytton High School, in Gisborne, there was only minimal legal fraternity history in the extended family – just Tauranga-based cousin Judge Christopher Harding, a judge since 1996 who sat in the body of the court on Friday with other Hawke's Bay and Gisborne judges.
Beside judges Taumaunu and Rielly at the bench were circuit executive Judge Bridget Mackintosh and former Elvidges partner Judge Geoff Rea, who last month marked 25 years as a judge.
Judge Taumaunu told the court Rielly had come with all the best of experience to meet changing times in the courts, in which he said everyone is entitled to be able to leave the court after their proceedings feeling they have been dealt with fairly regardless of the outcome.
The new judge had already faced challenges since her appointment was announced by Attorney-General David Parker six weeks earlier, in the early days of Covid-19 Alert Level 3 relaxation.
"First of all it looked like I could have five guests…then 30," she said. It had been challenging times which she said had "made us all" reflect on life.
Also speaking during the ceremony were Crown Prosecutor Steve Manning, in the court, and New Zealand Law Society president Tiana Epati, via audio-visual link from the Gisborne court.