Family Court

Biggest legal aid trough top-up in a decade: troughing lawyers want more

Legal aid lawyers do not believe the government’s biggest top-up to the courts in more than a decade will help the people who need it most.

Presumably they are talking about themselves.

They, and community law centres, have been crying out for more funding for years.

Promising a $96 million boost to legal aid over four years as part of last week’s Budget, Associate Justice Minister Simon Bridges said he had listened.

The funding included $17.2 million to increase eligibility for civil and family legal aid. ? Read more »

NZ Media just can’t let the government have a good story

I’ve taken a screenshot of this, to make the point


Great news story for the government, right? ? Now, let’s see how Mediaworks puts the boot in. ? Read more »

The end of the world as we know it has not happened as a result of Family Court reforms

When Judith Collins announced and then implemented Family Court reforms there were howls of outrage from vested interests about how the end of the world is nigh.

Unfortunately the truth is the reforms are working.

Judith Collins has?announced:

More parents are resolving their disputes outside of court only months after the Government?s family justice reforms came into effect, Justice Minister Judith Collins announced today.

?Progress to date confirms our reforms are empowering people to resolve their parenting disputes outside of court, minimising the stress children often face when their parents separate,? Ms Collins says.

Since the Government?s reforms came into effect on 31 March this year, 562 assessments for the New Family Disputes Resolution (FDR) mediation service have been completed and another 530 are in progress. ?? Read more »

Judith Collins sends key Owen Glenn report recommendation packing

As we saw yesterday, the reason we have Maori violence towards women and children is because they were told by early colonisers that men were more important than women and children. ?In short, it’s not their fault for beating women and killing babies because their sense of what is right and wrong was destroyed by these early British New Zealanders.

Since Owen Glenn paid $3 million dollars for a report that returned gems like the above, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the other major recommendation, to overturn the way the Family Court works, is getting a similarly cold response. ?Isaac Davison reports

Justice Minister Judith Collins has ruled out reversing the burden of proof in domestic violence cases – one of the key recommendations in the first report of the Glenn Inquiry.

Mrs Collins said this morning she would not consider the proposal, which would replace the adversarial court system with one which would place the burden of proof on alleged perpetrators instead of victims.

“The last thing I want to do is have our whole domestic violence work called into question by anybody saying it was impossible to prove that someone hasn’t actually assaulted someone.”

She also defended the Family Court after the Glenn Inquiry heard it was dysfunctional. Mrs Collins said recent reforms were a step in the right direction.

The reforms were implemented in March, and placed more emphasis on families resolving their conflict outside of court. Read more »

HoS editorial on Name Suppression for the “Politician”

The Herald on Sunday followed up its story about the “politician” from the leafy suburbs with an editorial about the same case.

The editorial drops some hints as to the identity. Please do not take that licence to guess in the comments…to do so will get you the ban hammer faster than Pete or Travis can swing it.

He is one of the wealthiest men in New Zealand. He supports MPs who changed the law to expressly state that a defendant’s public profile should not, of itself, be grounds for keeping his identity secret.

And, in an acrimonious, multi-million dollar marriage break-up, this man was alleged to have grabbed or touched his wife’s neck, and admitted trying to kick in the door of their home and shouting abuse at her.

But in the Family Court this week, Judge David Burns ordered that the man’s identity be indefinitely suppressed – that anyone who even whispers at his identity be liable to three months’ imprisonment or a $2,000 fine.

Why? It is because his Queen’s Counsel, Lady Deborah Chambers, used a clause in the Family Courts Act to have him categorised as a “vulnerable person”, as both he and his wife had unsuccessfully sought protection orders against each other at the height of the drawn-out, torrid break-up.? Read more »

Grant Dalton, Dean Barker, Team New Zealand and the elephant in the room

People’s private lives remain private, unless their private lives interfere with their public lives in a hypocritical way. ?For example, when public money is being wasted because those entrusted to behave correctly while in charge of it to deliver a result aren’t doing the right thing.

The code of silence about Grant Dalton’s behaviour during the last two years of the Team New Zealand campaign, especially while he was in San Diego has so far not been discussed.

Team New Zealand is very much a family focused team. ?Wives and children are there not just for a visit, but to be with their partners, husbands and fathers for extended periods during the long campaigns.

When you are a leader, it is especially important that you don’t just tell people what to do, but you are also seen to be following your own rules.

Putting aside the fact they are in charge of millions of tax payers and sponsors’ money, and they were carrying the hopes of a fair chunk of New Zealand, this is where the whole “Team” thing kind of fell apart.

Before the family court bestows the usual secrecy over this case, it is pertinent to note that Dalton?s PENDING visit there didn?t come about due to the stresses of running a huge campaign.

If that was the case, the elephant in the room would never need to be pointed out in public. Read more »

Only a matter of time

It is only a matter of time before questions are going to be raised under parliamentary privilege.

A senior political figure and his ex-wife are arguing in the family court over who gets the couple’s two dogs.

The names of the man, his new partner, his ex-wife and their dogs have all been suppressed.

Evidence of an alleged dog-napping by the man’s ex wife, to be referred to as D, was given at the Auckland Family Court yesterday.

D spotted the dogs being walked by her ex-husband’s new partner in an upmarket suburb of Auckland last November.

D was with an employee at the time. The employee fought back tears as he described to the court what the dogs meant to D. He also cannot be named because doing so could identify the parties.

“I’m aware the couple never had children, so the couple’s dogs were kind of like kids,” he said.

This is going to explode, sooner or later. The more it is reported and the more suppression remains the more people will be interested to know who.

It is actually farcical that name suppression is being used in the first place. Sure it is in the Family Court but name suppression in the Family Court is designed to protect children not the political and personal reputation of adults.

Similarly why is the NZ Herald not seeking an urgent overturning of name suppression in this case?like?they did over Mark Hotchin 7 years after teh fact. This case is far more relevant as it is happening right now not seven years ago.

The NZ?Herald?spent over $100,000 with their top shelf lawyers having the name suppression of Mark Hotchin and Kerry Finnigan overturned, why aren’t they now in court demanding openness and transparency in the court process concerning a senior political figure?

Another man afraid of his own name

The front page of the Herald this morning has the appalling story of a man desperately afraid of his own name.

A man who is now a marriage guidance counsellor threw his wife into a door frame, splitting her head open, then dragged her down the hall by the neck.

The attack on the woman was watched by her 6-year-old son, who grabbed his stepfather around the leg, yelling, “Leave my mummy alone.”

The man was convicted this week on two charges of assaulting his ex-wife and was sentenced to six months’ home detention – enabling him to keep working as a counsellor.

The trial, in the Manukau District Court, lasted three weeks.

The attack happened 15 years ago but the victim took years to build up the courage to face the man in court.

She had also grown frustrated at his rising profile in marriage guidance.

Judge Semi Epati granted the 50-year-old man name suppression, a decision which angered his victim.

I have been contacted by the support group of this man’s victims. they are disgusted by the whole justice system and process they have just endured.

What hasn’t been reported is the directions the jury were given during the trial by the judge. At the start of the trial the judge informed the court and the jury that he had a long standing very good friendship with the defence counsel. It was couched very much in a nudge, nudge, wink, wink kind of way.

What is worse though is that the two complainants have said all through the court process that they did not want nor need name suppression, and that they opposed his name suppression, the judge ignored them and he ignored the Crown representations on the matter.

But it gets even worse. The judge refused to allow one of the?complainants?to read her victim impact statement. This is an outrage. We have government policy and advertising campaigns that “It’s Not Ok” and in a classic case of spousal abuse from not one but two complainants the judge just ignores all that.

Then he sentenced him to 6 months home detention, in his luxury property so he can carry on business as a leading light in the marriage guidance industry.

He is so high profile that many media and news outlets go to him frequently for comment on marriage couselling and aspects of the law surrounding this.

Hypocritically the man also has decried the secrecy surrounding the Family Court.

This case is yet another outrage and a prime case for the removal of name suppression. It appears that this man has got his name suppression solely because of the personal relationship between his lawyer, and Judge Epati.

I have also had calls from concerned trainers/tutors at?tertiary?institutions?who refer student to counsellors for work experience wanting to make sure that they aren’t referring students to him. This is a man with 3 failed marriages and several more failed relationships who has built a reputation for himself in marriage couselling, and a luxury business too, I might add, that is based on dirty dark secrets that no one is allowed to know.

I wonder too if the Baptist Church shouldn’t also be in the dock for aiding and abetting the continued hiding of this man, sending him clients and?recommending?him to parishioners. They too have ignored the stories of his serial abuse, and they too have hidden the abuse not just of women but also of children by this man. He still advertises what a great christian man and pillar of the Baptist Church he is.

It sickens me. It appalls me that our justice system is so easily manipulated.

That is an outrage.

Will Police charge themselves with breaching Name Suppression

The Police, at the behest of the Solicitor-General, who is trying to make a point that he is the toughest guy in the land, have been pursuing me for breaching name suppression. I have to say I don’t think that their heart is in it, and certainly I don’t think the Crown prosecutor’s heart is in it either from the standard of disclosure of evidence presented thus far.

Nevertheless, no matter how stupid the law is I guess they must up hold it. Which then begs the question, Are they going to charge themselves?

A 51-year-old Pacific Island man has been awarded $6000 after police handed a list of his criminal record to the lawyer of his former partner.

The Human Rights Review Tribunal ruled that in handing over the charge sheet, police breached the man’s privacy.

The tribunal heard in Auckland that the man was involved in a Family Court proceeding involving access to his 14 month-old daughter in December 2008.

All parties have name suppression to protect the identity of the child and other children.

The mother’s lawyer had written to police asking for details of any domestic violence relating to the man.

But according to the tribunal, police provided much more besides.

They included a complete list of relatively minor criminal matters with which the man had been charged even though all but four had occurred more than nine years earlier and in some cases the offences were more than 17 years old.

In addition many had ended when the proceedings were discontinued, dismissed for want of prosecution, withdrawn, or after the plaintiff had been convicted but then discharged.

The tribunal noted that there were only six convictions for common assault or assault on a female, the last in 1999.

By a two to one majority, the tribunal agreed that the man’s privacy had been breached.

Seems a clear cut case….goose, gander and all that.