A fortnight back I wrote about an extraordinary decision by newly appointed Auckland District Court judge Clare Bennett.

That was her discharge WITHOUT PENALTY of a bloke who via a hidden camera, took almost 40,000 photos and videos of men and women in various states of undress in a city gymnasium.

These 40,000 photos and videos the judge unbelievably described as, “a single incident”.

The judge justified her non-conviction, name suppression and no penalty, not even court costs, on the mind-blowing reason this would embarrass the offender’s Government Department employer. I called for the Police to file an appeal.

Well, the good news is they’ve now done so.

Like it or not, lower court judgeships have over the years, frequently been an escape route livelihood for barristers struggling to make a living.

That reality is not necessarily an indictment on their competence, rather there’s simply too many of them.

Barristers have a tough time in good economic years such as we’ve enjoyed up until this year. Conversely, they boom in bad times as will be the situation in the years ahead.

That’s because in bad times disputes break out.

Another point is to remember that judges are not automatons but are human.

Get out of bed in a bad mood and they’ll come down hard on offenders.

In judge Bennett’s case one can only assume she was for all sorts of possible reasons, on one hell of a euphoric high when she delivered this farcical judgment.


When you describe Barristers above, you are assuming ones that practice in the commercial field.
There are also Criminal Barristers. These types do well in hard times and most probably good and average times as well. They also are able to become Judges and some in fact do.

I saw in the legal press the last few days a new insolvency law firm has just been set up in Auckland. An emerging boom industry for barristers to pivot likewise.

I worked in the Courts for 10 years up to 2016 (as a Stenographer) and as a rule I observed that provincial Judges gave harsher (in my opinion More appropriate) sentences than their more urban colleagues. Also female Judges were usually “softer” than the men. I also noticed younger Judges, of both sexes, were more lenient. Not a scientific study of course but the PC line seemed fairly clearly defined to me.

In 10 years working in the Courts as a stenographer ( across the Nation remotely transcribing both “live” trials as well as judgments and sentences) I began to notice that provincial Judges were generally tougher than their more urban colleagues; that younger Judges of both sexes were more lenient. Not a scientific study, of course, but in my opinion the PC line was clearly defined.

That’s the best news I’ve heard. Good on you Sir Bob for bringing a little sanity to this crazy world.
Bernie Attfield

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