A really bloody good judge, dislikes bludgers, maori activists, pedos, tattoos and dead beat dads

The Herald on Sunday has published some extracts from the new book by Judge Russell Callander.

He looks like a bloody good judge.

Here are some of his views.

On bludgers:

Benefit bludgers and tax cheats make me growl with indignation. Tax resistance is an ancient art form but benefit bludging is new – because until social welfare states emerged last century there was no such thing as a benefit from the state. When people improperly take benefits, they steal from the state – from the rest of us who obediently pay our taxes. I have seen people live cheerfully in well-paid jobs while for years they supplement that with unemployment benefits totalling thousands of dollars – in one case nearly $100,000. Often they have the cheek to look very disgruntled when they are caught, convicted and ordered to pay it all back. Then, adding insult to injury, they smile sweetly and offer to pay it back at $15 per week over the next 128 years. Naturally, without interest. Resistance to tax is as old as mankind. Historically, some taxes have been manifestly unfair, but when they are sensibly imposed we all have a duty to play fair and pay our way. Services must be paid for. I was once told by a tax accountant that if every New Zealander properly paid their taxes, and didn’t cheat or hide behind trusts, the general tax rate for everyone could be halved. 

On tattoos:

Epidermal self-mutilation with grotesque ill-drawn graphics so frequently flaunted by defendants, their associates, and witnesses are most irritating. It is distracting for a judge to gaze for hours at incomprehensible and often misspelled words or skin art so badly drawn that they are ugliness personified. When a man can’t even successfully spell four-letter Anglo-Saxon words, it makes me worry either about the standards of teaching in our schools, or the intelligence quotient of some of our more delinquent citizens. One witness was asked to identify an accused by describing the man’s tattoos. I applauded his response. “I can’t really describe his tattoos. They were a load of rubbish. They looked like the graffiti on a public dunny wall.”

On dead beat dads:

Over the years I have dealt with scores of men who have fathered children and then totally abdicated any responsibility for them. They don’t provide any financial help. They don’t play any parental role. They are selfish, uninterested, inhuman and irresponsible. They deserve the condemnation of us all.

On paedophiles:

Certain guilty paedophiles selfishly elect trial by jury on serious charges of sexual violation of children. They make me more than just grumpy. They force innocent children to testify about traumatic and sensitive sexual issues in the usually futile hope a jury will acquit. They deny their offending. They lie through their fangs. And then, after being sentenced to imprisonment, they confess all to a prison psychologist and ask for a rehabilitation programme and the earliest possible release date. On the off-chance of an acquittal they aggravate the pain of their young victims.

On maori activists:

A huge amount of court time is wasted by Maori activists who profess that Maori sovereignty renders them somehow immune to the laws of New Zealand. No one minds conceding legitimate protest about cultural concerns for all who live in our special country – as cranky as one man’s values and beliefs may be to the man across town. In a democracy that is fine. But to waste hundreds of hours of jury and judge time dealing with repetitive and often illogical and unreasonable tirades about things that have for years been rejected by the appeal courts, is worthy of thunderous judicial rebuke.

As I said a bloody good judge. More like him please.


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  • opusx

    Excellent stuff. A Judge whose opinion we can respect, an exception to the rule (so to speak). Clearly a man frustrated at the system he serves. I am unaware of his sentencing history, but he clearly has a gauge on the general feelings of the public. So unlike many of his peers.

  • kevin

    I reckon this guy is echoing the bulk of what New Zealanders think. Good on him saying it.

  • Macca

    What a top judge who would certainly appear to emulate what most of us think (albeit much more eloquently than I could ever put it), yet seems to be a lone voice In an ever increasingly liberal world!

  • Harroputza

    He is a fantastic judge (one of the old sort who took no nonsense, unlike some of the touchy-feely new crowd), and he is an absolute pleasure to work with.

    My favourite courtroom quote from him: “Quite frankly, counsel, your client is not within a bull’s roar of getting bail.”

    • opusx

      Within the confines of his abilities to sentence (ie: room at the Inn, case law, etc etc) is he pretty consistent with his sentencing? If he truly is an exception to the rule, we should applaud him and get his name out there as much as possible. As an example of a Judge who is doing their job in the interests of the public he serves. Bravo.

      • Harroputza

        His biggest asset is common sense. He’s from a different time, before white guilt, restorative justice and rehabilitation; all of these things are, in my opinion, leading to ever-more-stupid outcomes in courts these days (at least the ones I’ve been in).

  • GazzW

    Move over Sian Elias!

  • Jimmie

    Yup a good judge. I’ll vote for him when he stands for re election.

    Oh bummer thats right judges are appointed so for every good judge we also keep 7 dodgy judges who think poor scrotebag had a bad childhood and gets discharged without conviction and name suppression.

    • Mr_Blobby

      My vote to.

      But we need to concentrate on the bad judges, in the majority.

      Well overdue for accountability. Bring on the elections for Judges, Prosecutors and Local Police chiefs.

      The ones that meet public expectations will be voted in the rest will be voted out.

      The question is how to attract the best to apply.

  • williamabong

    He’s a very brave man, the only fish swimming in that direction, he will have the visit from “The Limp Dick, Soft Cock Bleeding Heart, Hug a Crim Judiciary” as he is definitely not following the company line.

    • IWantToBeLikeMallardOneDay

      Definitely wandered off the reservation and set for a spell in the sanatorium…

  • pauleastbay

    He’s never been grumpy and he never turned up to Court half pissed like some of his older collegues used to after big lunches at the Club . He just loves giving little asides to the Court, generally humourous and if the prosecution or defence are too stupid to pick up on the fact that he was gently reminding them to stop being dorks they payed come verdict time. A bit of levity doesn’t detract from professionalism.

  • I’ve known Russell Callender for over 30 years. Judith Collins should extract his DNA and clone enough judges to staff every District Court in the land. He is a man of the highest integrity, with lashings of good, old-fashioned common sense.

    • Cadwallader

      I believe he may have been a solicitor in Taihape at one time. That would be an ideal place to learn common sense and balanced thinking.

      • He may have been Cadwallader, but I knew him in Palmerston North prior to him ascending to the District Court bench.

  • Dave Broad

    Clearly not some leftist judicial appointment from the Clark administration.

  • Bryan

    good stuff the funniest two I heard was in Rotorua when a chap was asking for extension of his hearing to go to another Funeral and the Judge replied “that’s the fourth one this month have you got any family left” and the expression on the court reporters face was priceless

    the other was selecting a Jury and the Tax Dept had written asking to excuse a young chap

    The judge read the whole letter to the court and then said “take your place its not going to make any change to the speed of my Tax return”

  • snakebit

    Very well said but I bet he restrained himself when he he spoke on paedophiles.