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Thu 20th October 2016

Judge Mary O’Dwyer

Filed under: General — WayneBurrows @ 3:02 pm

Judge O’Dwyer spoke last month at the National Council of Women’s conference. In that speech she spoke about family violence. To me this is an extreme conflict of interest as she sits in the Family Court. Especially so when she expressed the erroneous view to the National Council of Women that “all” statistics and research show predominantly women and children as victims.

Today I have made a complaint to the Judicial Conduct Commissioner.

I am sure it is not too late to made amendments so I have copied my complaint below. I will be interested in any feedback/suggestions.

1. I wish to make a complaint about Judge Mary O’Dwyer who is a judge in the Family Court.
2. My name is Wayne John Burrows.
3. My complaint is that Judge O’Dwyer demonstrated bias in speaking at the National Council of Women’s Conference held from 15-17 September 2016.
4. In her speech Judge O’Dwyer stated “the statistics and the research all show that predominantly the victims of this violence are women and children”.
5. This statement is far from accurate. There is much research that shows that men are as frequently or more frequently the victims of violence perpetrated by women. For example the Dunedin cohort study found as reported in an article by Magdol et al that 34% of men were victims of physical violence by their intimate partner compared with 27% of women. Similarly 22% of men and 37% of women perpetrated physical violence against their intimate partner.
6. Judge O’Dwyer’s statement using the universal quantifier “all” is so far distorted from reality as to show a clear gender bias in her thinking around family violence. Professor Murray Straus for example has written about 30 years of denying gender symmetry in partner violence.
7. As a Family Court Judge, Judge O’Dwyer will often be called upon with incomplete and conflicting information to adjudicate on who a (primary) perpetrator of violence is within a family relationship – the majority of which are heterosexual relations. If Judge O’Dwyer believes as stated that “the statistics and research all show that predominantly the victims of this violence are women and children” then it is inevitable that the woman will be presumed to be victims and by inference the man the perpetrator. Judge O’Dwyer will often be called upon to rule on balance of probabilities and if her view is that ‘women are predominantly victims’ then in her mind on balance of probabilities other things being equal the woman would be the victim and the man the perpetrator.
8. I submit given Judge O’Dwyer’s public statements about the extreme gender asymmetry in family violence that she is unfit to sit in the Family Court.
a. At paragraph (65) of the Guidelines for Judicial Conduct, judges are expected to exercise caution when expressing views on controversial subjects.
b. I submit that the gendered nature of family violence is such a controversial subject.
c. Judges should avoid using their judicial office to promote personal views.
d. I submit that Judge O’Dwyer’s stated view of all statistics and research show predominantly that women and children are victims is precisely that – a personal view. It is not factual – all research and statistics do not support Judge O’Dwyer’s personal view on this matter. As such Judge O’Dwyer should have avoided expressing this view publicly.
e. The purpose of not expressing personal views publicly is so as not to give the “appearance of capture by particular organisations or causes”. Judge O’Dwyer expressing these views to the sympathetic audience at the National Council of Women’s Conference strongly suggests that she is captured by that organisation and their views on family violence. Moreover the predominant feminist view of family violence as an expression of patriarchal dominance is a cause that is supported by Judge O’Dwyer’s expressed opinion that is contrary to the facts.
f. “Judges should avoid expressing opinions on matters which may arise in litigation and which may lead to concern about the impartiality of the judge”. Who the perpetrator of violence is is a common function of a Family Court Judge in for example issuing a Protection Order under the Family Violence Act. Judge O’Dwyer has not avoided expressing opinions on that matter by speaking publicly at the National Council of Women’s Conference.
9. Paragraph (65) of the Guidelines for Judicial Conduct also states that if a matter of public controversy calls for a response from the judiciary then that response should be made by the Chief Justice or head of jurisdiction or with their approval.
a. I have tried to determine through the Ministry of Justice whether such approval was given to Judge O’Dwyer but have been unable to do so.
b. Therefore I submit that investigation should be made into whether Judge O’Dwyer was granted approval by the Chief Justice or the Principle Family Court Judge to make a statement at the National Council of Women’s Conference.
10. Paragraph (72) of the Guidelines for Judicial Conduct requires that judges not be members of any organisation that discriminates on the basis of sex.
a. I submit that the National Council of Women is such an organisation. Their raison d’etre is to promote issues from a (discriminatory) women’s perspective.
b. I submit that Judge O’Dwyer should be investigated as to whether she is a member of any women’s organisations including the National Council of Women.
c. If Judge O’Dwyer is a member of any women’s organisations then I submit that those memberships should be made public. I believe this is in the public interest as Judge O’Dwyer has sat in the Family Court adjudicating primarily between men and women.

12 Responses to “Judge Mary O’Dwyer”

  1. voices back from the bush says:

    Thanks for keeping us informed about this judges bias Wayne.
    Its helpful to those of us that would like to complain about these kinds of matters but dont really know how to word things correctly etc.
    Please do keep us informed of the responce.
    Ive often see your comments on fb about victims issues.
    And you’ve had writeups in mainstream media that I thought id never see.
    Your a national treasure mate.

  2. chris says:

    yes these are very interesting points satistics nz only collects data based on trends . it is very hard to find stats on this sort of issue on nz stats website as most of their stats show women stats and it is hard to find cincrete data on men

    well done

  3. Vman says:

    Excellent in every way.
    Long past time for some accountability.

  4. MurrayBacon says:

    I understand that you were complaining that she gave her talk to NCW, without proper prior authorisation.
    Reading the complaint that you showed, I thought that the complaint should be about Judge O’Dwyer’s suitability to be a judge in the familycaught$.
    Thank you for your careful work on this.
    Judicial Complaints Commissioner isn’t known for careful work at all, so you may need to help them through this, if they will let you?

  5. Allan Harvey says:

    Judge O’Dwyer is very experienced and I have found her balanced, thoughtful, sensitive and impartial to gender. Many other judges could learn from her manner in Court.

  6. Allan Harvey says:

    Wayne do you have a copy of Judge O’Dwyer’s speech? I would like to read what she said before commenting. Allan

  7. WayneBurrows says:

    Hi Allan

    I have no experience with her.

    You can find a video of her speech on the National Council of Women’s facebook page.

  8. Allan Harvey says:

    I first met her when she facilitated a “without notice applications” Family Law section training with Vivienne Crawshaw in 2004. She was extremely supportive of our participation in that workshop which was not at all typical at the time when UoF was “feared” by many in the system. I have been in her courtroom in Dunedin several times and on multiple occasions in Wellington and the Hutt since her transfer here. It is always extremely reassuring to see her on the bench and know that the hostility and opposition McKenzie friends and their friends suffer in the court room of others will not be a feature of the day. Socially she is very open to debate and frank discussion.

  9. Man X Norton says:

    Well done Wayne. Even if Judge O’Dwyer is a jolly nice person in Court, such false feminist propaganda deserves to be challenged every time it is uttered.

    I suggest in good faith the following editing changes, shown in italics and bold:

    Paragraph 5: This statement is far from accurate. There is much research that shows that men are as frequently or more frequently the victims of violence perpetrated by women or men. For example the Dunedin cohort study found as reported in an article by Magdol et al that 34% of men were victims of physical violence by their intimate partner compared with 27% of women. Similarly 22% of men and 37% of women perpetrated physical violence against their intimate partner. While it is true that a majority of the most serious categories of family violence is committed by men, men and women are the victims of that violence in comparable proportions. For example, according to the Family Violence Deaths Committee, on average each year 81% of family violence homicides of adults other than by intimate partners were suffered by men, while 43% of family violent adult deaths overall each year were suffered by men. These statistics clearly show Judge O’Dwyer’s claims to be misleading. To play down or ignore such significant proportions of male victimhood can only be described as sexist.

    Paragraph 7: Correct the grammar as follows: …then it is inevitable that the woman will be presumed to be the victim and by inference the man the perpetrator.

    Paragraph 7: Judge O’Dwyer will often be called upon to rule on the basis of a balance of probabilities which is a low standard of proof with minimal evidential requirements, and if her view is that ‘women are predominantly victims’ then in her mind the balance of probabilities would cause bias in her view towards a woman being the victim and a man the perpetrator.

    Paragraph 8.d: Correct the grammar as follows: I submit that Judge O’Dwyer’s stated view that all statistics and research show predominantly that women and children are victims is precisely that – a personal view.

    Paragraph 9.b: Spelling correction: …Principal Family Court Judge…

  10. golfa says:

    Allan, I think perhaps the Judge comes from the Hillary Clinton school of speech making. Say one thing to a paying audience and say another publically.

  11. Simon grant says:

    It is re assuring to see her honor Judge O’Dwyer on the bench. Not one to get bogged down in process and bullshit and doesn’t appear to like it used to piss every one around and delay outcomes for children. I have found her honor progressive and gave me an opportunity to cross examine C4C who’s behaviour was/is a disgrace in many respects. Focused on outcomes.

    Perhaps her honor is simply stating something pretty straight forward.

    We can look after our own behaviour, the real worry for us and our kids is mummies new boyfriend and decent dads being shut out and dicked around and giving up. You/your children will be in a better position with her honor Judge O’Dwyer in terms of the mother’s environment and your children’s well being than your children could be with the “mummy can do no wrong and even if she does it will be swept under the Family Court carpet” rubbish people have seen before. Crap mothers can perhaps expect a juducial serve up from her honor Judge O’Dwyer as can crap fathers.

    Unfortunately the gender bashing machine isn’t prepared to say “Gee if the kid gets abused and is in the care of the mother, even though its her new boyfriend the mother, yes the woman, the primary care giver must be held to account” the child is her priority, not her new bloke.

  12. mopardad says:

    well done, any update on this?

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