Supreme Court

The Department of Corrections was doing what the courts told it was the law. The courts were wrong about that, so now the Department of Corrections owes prisoners compensation. That's exactly how our law is supposed to work.

On Wednesday evening I had the pleasure of attending the launch of Sir Geoffrey Palmer and Andrew Butler's book proposing a written constitution for New Zealand. It was held at Parliament, and may I say that a fine time was had by all.

Tawera Wichman was caught using a "Mr Big" undercover trap. The Supreme Court (narrowly) said that this was OK - but that there are still problems with how the Police can mount such operations. And now I can tell you all this freely and openly.

As can (finally) now be reported, Tawera Wichman has been jailed for 3 years, 10 months for shaking his 11 month old son, Teegan Tairoa-Wichman, to death some seven years ago.

Why turn to fiction for mind-bending exercises in logical absurdity? The real world of the courts provide much stranger fare.

The various adventures of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass appear to have a particular resonance for lawyers.

There's a legal saying that hard cases make bad law. But sometimes the opposite can be true - an apparently easy case can lead a Court into some pretty swampy terrain.

The story of Jonathan Dixon doesn't raise much sympathy. He was a bouncer at a Queenstown bar back in 2011. While working there, he observed the English rugby player Mike Tindall - who had just married the Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips - "cavorting" with a woman on the dance floor.

Parliament seems about to drop New Zealand's commitment to the rule of law from the Act underpinning the judicial branch. Retiring Supreme Court judge (and former Solicitor-General) John McGrath thinks that's worrying. He's right. There's still time to lobby the Minister of Justice.

One of the first legislative measures of the young colony, back in 1841, was the creation of what we now know as the High Court. That legislation has been updated over the years, significantly in the 1880s before consolidation in the 1908 Judicature Act.