Lawyer investigated over criticism of judge

Morning Talk 07/05/2018
Photo credit: Supplied.

Outspoken lawyer Catriona MacLennan is being investigated by the Law Society for criticising a judge.

She says judges aren’t applying the Domestic Violence Act correctly and more needs to be done to educate judges about domestic violence issues. 

Catriona MacLennan told TVNZ’s Q&A that it was time the legal profession stopped defending judges without question.

“I’ve been commenting in the media for 21 years on domestic violence issues, and these are the strongest comments I’ve ever made,” she said. “So I think that if lawyers and the Law Society are seen to kind of circle the wagons and defend judges no matter what, I think that that really doesn’t help confidence in the legal system.

“I think the Law Society itself should have made comment and stated that the judge’s remarks were not appropriate, and I think that would have enhanced confidence in the legal system”

Waikato University Law Professor Al Gillespie told Mark Sainsbury on Morning Talk that you can criticise a judge, it just depends how the criticism is done.

“If the [lawyer] is in the trial, you can’t criticise the judge. If you’re outside of the trial, and you make a fair comment, it’s ok.

“The Law Society has oversight of all lawyers and one of the rules for lawyers is that you have to uphold the rule of law and facilitate the administration of justice,” he told RadioLIVE.

“The problem is that we live in a country with free-speech and you have to a fine balance between being able to speak out against judges and when it’s fair and when it’s not fair.”

Listen the full interview with Al Gillespie above.

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