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Accountability that was never really intended to work !

Filed under: General — MurrayBacon @ 2:16 pm Tue 6th November 2012

Examples of Working Accountability

NZ Parliamentarians are required to register the nature of their assets. The public may use this to investigate possible conflicts of interest. This register is also available to profit media, although they don’t make much use of it, same say it is boring! UK Register of Members Interests UK Register

USA Federal judges are required to keep an up to date register of their wider family members and assets. This is used before assigning a judge to a hearing, to avoid mistrials due to later discovering a conflict of interest.

UK and USA judges have Judicial Complaints Commissions, that proactively investigate complaints about judges. In UK 2 judges per year are fired and about 10 disciplined to some extent.

NZ Medical Practitioners are supervised under the Health and Disability Act, Resolution, protection, and learning. Complaints are fairly promptly and actively investigated. Outcomes range from no further action, to remedial training, discipline and removal of practising license.

Examples of Deliberately Workfree Accountability

The NZ Judicial Complaints Hider has admitted that his office is well funded to support his generous salary, but not well enough funded to be able to carry out investigations into complaints about malfeasance by “judges”.

NZ “judges” have claimed that it is unnecessary, too much trouble and would be too expensive for NZ to copy the USA Federal Judges register of assets and wider family members.
Disclosure bill could put judges at risk???? of doing their jobs?
The bill was drafted in the wake of Supreme Court judge Bill Wilson’s resignation two years ago after a complaint about a perceived conflict of interest was made against him.

Mr Graham’s bill would require judges to disclose their financial affairs but not dollar amounts in order to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest.

But according to a submission from Acting Chief Justice McGrath on behalf of all judges in New Zealand the register “would be an unwarranted intrusion into the personal affairs of judges, their partners and their families and would create opportunities for harassment by regruntled litigants and mothers”.

Rational Avoidance of Accountability MarkLauchs PhD thesis
Queensland State Government has a chequered history of corruption, malfeasance and windowdressing accountability. (We cannot criticise, as our own history is similarly corrupted, only with the saving grace that most of our corruption was losses through our own stupidity, rather than outright theft. Also, we must remember that NZ supplied Sir Joh Belkie Peterson to Queensland!)

Rational Avoidance of Accountability MarkLauchs PhD thesis Abstract:
Anthony Downs public choice theory proposes that every rational person would try to meet
their own desires in preference to those of others, and that such rational persons would
attempt to obtain these desires in the most efficient manner possible. This thesis submits that
the application of this theory would mean that public servants and politicians would perform
acts of corruption and maladministration in order to efficiently meet their desires. As such
action is unavoidable, political parties must appear to meet the public demand for
accountability systems, but must not make these systems viable lest they expose the
corruption and maladministration that would threaten the government’s chance or re-election.
The thesis demonstrates this hypothesis through a study of the history of the public sector in
Queensland. It shows that all governments have displayed a commitment for accountability
whilst simultaneously ensuring the systems would not be able to interfere with government
control or expose its flaws.

David Bain’s claim for wrongful imprisonment unnecessarily delayed – Bain case heel-dragging a disgrace

Integrity of NZs Judicial Complaints Commissioner

This note compares the handling of complaints about judges in other culturally similar jurisdictions and draws the conclusion that our system is not competently investigating complaints about the behaviour of judges.

As a result, it can reasonably be assumed that in the absence of supervision, the behaviour of our judges will at times be significantly out of step with expectations of society.

Judging from international comparisons, we would expect about 3 admonishments per year and one dismissal every two years. By comparison, not a single judge has been dismissed in 3 years.

As the societal expectations of judges are not able to be able to be fully and clearly defined, it is important that individual cases are reviewed and the outcomes made available to the public and to judges, on an ongoing basis.

The silence of the judiciary on the absence of a working supervision system, does them no credit at all. In fact, their behaviour is fairly consistently set against accountability to the public.

Professional accountability has never been a comfortable subject. None of us enjoys being questioned on our actions, with the possibility of accountability biting us with severe consequences.

In the absence of working systems of professional accountability, the public may suffer horribly and in their hurt, have sought redress through the courts and through Parliament.

In almost all cases, self-regulation has had spectacular failures and Parliament has moved towards external regulation. In the last 20 years, Parliament has taken supervision of the medical profession and real estate agents from self-regulation and imposed external regulation, with lay member input.

The only two significant ‘professions’ that have retained self-regulation, have been legal workers and ‘judges’. They have been able to do this only through protection from MPs that are legal workers, in breach of Parliament’s Rules on standing out of debates when there is a Conflict of Interest.

However, well publicized examples of failures of self-regulation keep on occurring This leads to public pressure for working systems of accountability.

The legal-workers now have a new system of self-regulation, which still operates without lay person input and seems to be just the old system dressed up with new titles. This system seems to keep drawing public complaints, at the same rate as the old system it replaced. It isn’t having any improved impact on malpractices by legal-workers.

In the last 20 years, complaints about malpractice and fraud by judges have kept on surfacing, with little or no resolution.

One particularly embarrassing example, was an accusation that two District Court judges were making fraudulent expenses claims. It is extremely unusual for Justice Department staff to make allegations against judges, as they can easily lose their jobs or be disadvantaged. In this case, when the allegations could no longer be hidden, a police investigation decided to lay charges. Judge Hesketh pleaded guilty and resigned. Judge Beattie was found not guilty at trial and refused to resign as judge. Public concern at the possibility of crimes being heard in front of a judge who had escaped conviction on technicalities, led to him being slid sideways.

There have been many complaints about judges hearing cases involving friends, family and business partners. Even when requested to recuse themselves, some had refused. In other cases, the aggrieved party had only found out about the judge’s connections to the other party, long after the corrupted trial had closed and thedeadline for submitting an appeal was long gone.

As a result of these incidents, legislation was passed setting up a Judicial Complaints Commissioner. Surprisingly, he was given no power to discipline or dismiss! If his preliminary investigation recommended further action, the case would be passed to the Head Of Bench, for formal investigation. The Head Of Bench, who had no power to discipline or dismiss, was still not given these powers either! These were the very people who had mishandled previous allegations and previously refused to take action against errant judges, probably because they were too close ie the old Conflict Of Interest. So, nothing had changed at all, just the window dressing and added expense to the taxpayer.

As legal workers and judges price their services further out of the reach of the average citizen, then the costs of appealing unsatisfactory or defective judgements becomes further still out of sensible reach of citizens. In this situation, the availability of a complaints handling system can help the judges to stay in compliance with legislation and in tune with public expectations about ethics.

There are many types of shady practice, with examples from Chicago, Sydney, Queensland, Stalin, Auckland District Court and doubtless many others too.

Tenure for life with no accountability supervision is well demonstrated to fail regularly.

The two main systems of supervision are:

1. Regular voting for judges ie no tenure, and
2. External supervision, with lay input and the power to discipline or dismiss.

Many USA states use the voting system, with reasonably effective results. The USA Federal courts, Chicago, California and Australia use the latter system.

NZ uses the latter system, but the investigator is a legal worker, with no lay input and he investigates complaints non-proactively. If the preliminary investigation finds a case to answer, it is not publicly reported and is passed secretly to the Head of Bench, for supposedly a formal investigation. The Head of Bench can carry out this investigation secretly and is under no obligation to report the outcome publicly and not to the complainant either.

Unsurprisingly, this system hasn’t found the need to discipline or dismiss a single judge, in three years!

By international comparison, if we scale USA and UK experience with judicial supervision, we would expect in NZ to see a judge dismissed every two years and 2 or 3 disciplined per year. Thus zero disciplines of any sort in three years shows that the JCC doesn’t have the stomach to carry out his job proactively, or independently or successfully. This isn’t really surprising, given the Conflict of Interest, no lay input and the toothless role.


New Rules Mean Shift Toward Accountability for Judiciary 2006 !!!

By Tony Mauro
New York Lawyer
Legal Times
September 20, 2006

Responding to complaints about judicial junkets and conflicts of interest, the Judicial Conference on Tuesday enacted new rules to force judges to use conflict-checking software and to promptly disclose their participation in privately sponsored seminars for which they are reimbursed.
Separately, a committee headed by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer issued a report recommending modest changes in how federal courts handle ethical complaints that members of the public file against judges. Among the recommendations is what Breyer described as a “Dutch uncle approach,” whereby judges would seek advice on handling certain complaints from judges of another circuit to avoid “home court” bias.
Together, Tuesday’s actions represent a major shift toward accountability — or at least transparency — from segments of a branch of government that has often resisted both.
Judges also hoped to defuse pressure from Congress, primarily in the person of House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who has proposed creating an inspector general’s office to oversee the judiciary’s handling of ethical complaints. The late Chief Justice William Rehnquist appointed the Breyer Committee in 2004, mainly in response to congressional complaints.
“Issuance of the two policies and the Breyer Committee report are responsive to these concerns,” says University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias. “If the judiciary does not police itself, Congress may well attempt to do so in ways that judges may find troubling.”
Tuesday’s focus on judicial ethics comes on the eve of the Sept. 21 hearings by the House Judiciary Committee that could lead to the impeachment of California federal trial Judge Manuel Real, which would be the first judicial impeachment since 1989.
Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., in a rare impromptu press conference at the Court, applauded both of Tuesday’s moves and urged federal judges to take “prompt action.”
Under the new rules, judges will be barred from accepting reimbursement for seminars hosted by organizations that do not publicly disclose their funding sources, speakers’ names, and other information. Once they attend, judges will have to publicly disclose their attendance on their court’s Web site within 30 days.
“The new junket rules are a pretty dramatic change of course for the judiciary, and they send a clear statement to judges that they should think twice before attending junkets,” Doug Kendall of the Community Rights Counsel said Tuesday. Kendall’s group has repeatedly criticized judges for attending seminars funded by companies with an interest in influencing how judges handle economic and environmental cases.
One of the targets of Kendall’s criticism has been the Montana-based Foundation for Research on Economics & the Environment (FREE), which has hosted hundreds of federal judges in the past 15 years. It asserts that none of the funding for its judicial seminars comes from any corporate entity or any foundation that participates in federal litigation.
Hogan told reporters his software reminds him of a potential conflict of interest every time a party named Johnson appears before him. That, he said with a laugh, is because he and his wife own stock in the medical company Johnson & Johnson.

If all of this isn’t entertaining, don’t take it too seriously and commit rational suicide.
Clonazepam helps greatly with anxiety. Clonazepam is a benzodiazepine drug having anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, muscle relaxant, and hypnotic properties.
The side effects are often less serious than suicide, in my opinion.
Help is available. Not for your problems, but to meet the needs of service providers.
MurrayBacon – axe murderer and regruntled litigant.


  1. Bryce Edwards Political round-up: The Greens’ condemned lobbying bill

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Wed 7th November 2012 @ 7:41 am

  2. Even the “great” capitalist countries have large problems with putting enough pressure to get representatives to serve the citizens, above their own self interests and criminal aspirations.

    Ethics Deal Breaks Logjam But Leaves Key Issues Behind New York

    This follows on from debate in 2008, where the legislature was criticised for ethical violations and failing to do its basic functions:
    Still Broken: New York State Legislative Reform 2008 Update

    It reminds me of familycaught$ promising changes, while they keep mercilessly and unethically pillaging Government and citizens, by featherbedding with go-slow thievery.

    It reminds me of the intrepid Judith Collins promising improvements in familycaught$ costs to Government, but ignoring the social costs of familycaught$ dangerous decisions.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Thu 22nd November 2012 @ 9:38 am

  3. Representatives in all countries may serve their private interests, over their duties to citizens.

    In UK, the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee has been grilling companies over paying negligibly small amounts of tax, when a company that she owns is doing exactly the same, but she isn’t grilling her own company!

    She has been challenged, but hasn’t yet been able to explain why she hasn’t grilled her own company.

    This is a clear conflict of interest situation, where she should have stood aside from this issue.

    Perspective on Conflict of Interests

    Are unmanaged conflicts of interest hazardous to our children?

    If we allowed litigants to choose the judge for their hearing and have to pay the judge, then litigants could manage this conflict of interest between doing a good quality job at a reasonable cost and the present judge’s featherbedding by slow, time wasting hearings with low quality judgements at the end.

    Judges who earned a reputation for doing a good job, at a fair price, would get ongoing work. Judges who charged too much, or failed to do a good job, would not get ongoing work and would have to get a job driving a rubbish truck or sign up for unemployment benefit.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Fri 23rd November 2012 @ 8:37 am

  4. Air Force squadron warned before fatal crash, tribunal told

    Govt concedes hotel costs a factor in crash

    Anzac Day crash pilot followed training

    Officer charged over Anzac Day chopper crash

    Time running out in air force probe

    Air Vice-Marshal Stockwell said the investigation was being carried out under the Armed Forces Discipline Act. The legislation shows time is running out for charges to be laid – it has a three-year statute of limitations which expires a month after the third Anzac Day anniversary of the accident.

    Andrew Carson had described Flight Lieutenant Pezaro as a scapegoat for air force bosses who were found responsible for overseeing a poor safety culture.

    He said he did not expect further responsibility to be found in the command chain. The military justice system was unable to properly investigate commanders and an external inquiry into the crash was needed.
    It does sound like accountability that was never intended to work!
    Cheers, MurrayBacon.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Sat 13th April 2013 @ 9:20 pm

  5. Charges dropped against ex-Pike River boss Peter Whittall – business as usual, not business, but incompetence bordering on corruption.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Thu 12th December 2013 @ 9:15 pm

  6. Police end case on abusive officer

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Sun 26th January 2014 @ 8:46 am

  7. It’s one lawyer out of 12,000 so the public can be confident that lawyers have high standards of conduct?

    Lawyer who ‘grossly overcharged’ golf buddy struck off

    By: Newstalk ZB staff, and APNZ, Latest Crime News | Monday February 17 2014 14:06

    Lawyer who ‘grossly overcharged’ golf buddy struck off
    UPDATED 3.56PM – A lawyer who grossly overcharged his former golfing buddy by has been struck off the Law Society’s register, and ordered to repay almost $500,000 in overcharged fees.

    Eion Castles was found guilty of professional misconduct by the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal last December.

    He faced the disciplinary tribunal after he charged a client, with whom he played golf at Titirangi Golf Club, $1,030,000 – well above the $436,000 cost assessors estimated his work would have cost to help sort out legal problems created by the client’s leaky Remuera home.

    The former client, whose name is suppressed by the tribunal, today told the hearing that as Mr Castles had declared himself bankrupt last Friday, he was unlikely to see any of the monies awarded.
    While the former client continued ” to live in penury” , Mr Castles would not endure any hardship. ” … Castles will still live in an upmarket suburb in a comfortable house owned by his wife. He will still enjoy rent from another house owned by his wife. He will still holiday on the beach at Waiheke in a house owned by his wife” , the man told the hearing

    Mr Castles would also still play golf at the Titirangi Golf Club he was still a member of, the former client said.

    “In another court it is likely that he would be found guilty of theft or some other crime deserving of a custodial sentence.”

    The tribunal’s five-member panel ordered Mr Castles be struck off the Law Society’s register and ordered him to pay $482,000 in overcharged fees and $107,000 in costs to the Law Society.

    He was also ordered to pay a $5000 fee to the Law Society and $5000 in compensation to his former clients.


    “That is extraordinarily bad for the industry’s reputation as a whole.”

    In a written decision released last December, the tribunal described Mr Castles’ charges were “grossly excessive”.

    The tribunal found that in his first two weeks of work, Mr Castles charged his former golfing buddy more than he had been charged by his former solicitors, who were also working on legal action arising from his leaky home, over a period of two years.


    Law Society President Chris Moore says the incident paints other lawyers in an unfair light.

    “It’s one lawyer out of about 12,000 so I think the public can be pretty confident that the vast majority of lawyers have very high standards of conduct.”

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Fri 23rd May 2014 @ 9:09 pm

  8. Sad, poignant and in the long run, destructive to the honourable and constructive parts of NZ society.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Sat 7th September 2019 @ 1:12 pm

  9. sad, yes, another case of disposability.

    Comment by mama — Mon 9th September 2019 @ 9:23 am

  10. NZ may be better than USA, but not by much?

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Wed 11th September 2019 @ 9:42 am

  11. This Australian report implies that they have a hope to improve accountability for actions of litigants and staff of the familycaught$.
    But time will tell whether this “request” by the ALRC will find any element of genuineness in the Australian Parliament, where law is the largest single previous occupation of MPs. (Hint of undeclared conflict of interest and of acting on that undeclared conflict of interest.)

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Wed 2nd October 2019 @ 9:13 am

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