5 Sep 2012

Complaints about judges soar

10:50 pm on 5 September 2012

Complaints about judges rose by 81% in the past year.

The increase is revealed in the Judicial Conduct Commissioner's annual report, tabled in Parliament last week.

A total of 147 new complaints were lodged with the commissioner's office in the year to August.

High Court judges were complained about most often, followed by District Court, then Supreme Court judges.

The commissioner handled 474 complaints overall, but dismissed or took no further action on all but eight of them.

Some 269 complaints were thrown out, mostly because they questioned a judge's decision - something that Commissioner Sir David Gascoigne has no power to investigate.

Sir David says many complaints are increasingly complex and detailed and are taking longer to resolve. He says a law change to give greater powers of investigation to his deputy, Alan Ritchie, would help ease the workload.

The Criminal Bar Association's president, Tony Bouchier,says the commissioner is weighed down with far too much work.