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Amy Adams is confused about Judicial appointments

Written By: - Date published: 11:12 am, August 8th, 2015 - 19 comments
Categories: feminism, Politics - Tags: ,

This week something notable and overdue occurred in the Courts of New Zealand.  The first all women Court of Appeal bench presided over a case.

Amy Adams posted the following tweet to celebrate this event.

But I am not sure that Finlayson deserves the praise Adams thinks he does.  Because the three Judges were actually appointed to the Judiciary by the last Labour Government.

From the Courts of New Zealand website:

The Honourable Justice Ellen France

Justice Ellen France has an LLB (Hons) from Auckland University and an LLM from Queen’s University, Ontario. Before being appointed to the High Court in April 2002 she was a senior legal adviser in the Department of Justice Law Reform Division; Crown Counsel and then Deputy Solicitor-General in the Crown Law Office. She was appointed a judge of the Court of Appeal in June 2006. She was made President of the Court of Appeal with effect from 1 September 2014.


The Honourable Justice Winkelmann

Justice Helen Winkelmann graduated BA, LLB from the University of Auckland in 1984 and was admitted to the bar in 1985. She was a partner at Phillips Fox from 1988 until she began practice as a barrister sole in May 2001, specialising in insolvency and commercial litigation. Justice Winkelmann was appointed a High Court judge in July 2004 and appointed as Chief High Court Judge with effect from 1 February 2010. Justice Winkelmann joined the Court of Appeal bench with effect from 1 June 2015.


The Honourable Justice French

The Hon Justice French was educated in Invercargill and achieved an LLB (Hons) degree from the University of Otago in 1981. She was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford (United Kingdom) and graduated BCL in 1983. On return to New Zealand she practised in the legal firm of French Burt Partners in Invercargill. She has been a member of various Law Society committees. Justice French was appointed to the Court of Appeal on 6 August 2012

although she was also appointed as a Judge in 2008 by the last Labour Government and then promoted to the Court of Appeal.

And how strong is Finlayson’s commitment to equality in terms of Judicial appointments?  My analysis of fresh appointments (as opposed to promotions) since he became Attorney General suggests that 18 of 55 District Court appointments were female and seven of 25 High Court appointments were male.  The total percentage of female judicial appointments made by Finlayson is 31%.

The figures show an improvement in that in 2010 only 26% of all Judges were women.  And in the five years to 2009 28.4% of judicial appointments were female.  But the improvement is only marginal.

Certainly things have improved from previous decades.  But in a profession where since the 1990s over half of graduates are female there continues to be a concerning lack of equality in the ranks of our judiciary.

19 comments on “Amy Adams is confused about Judicial appointments ”

  1. tracey 1

    So two of them received the higher appointment from this Government. That is 2/3 of the people Adams is talking about, so she is more right than you (no pun intended)?

    • dukeofurl 1.1

      Promotion ?

      I can remember back when such a thing was unheard of. In fact the Chief Justice was direct from the ‘ranks’ or the Appeal Court was by seniority ( if they wanted it)

    • Disraeli Gladstone 1.2

      Also, the latest District Court appointments were 40% women. Which is still too low, but a considerably better effort than recent years.

      Really, this seems a bizarre thing to dedicate a post to. It’s about as worthwhile as the Australian batting line up.

      • mickysavage 1.2.1

        One batch appointment of four out of ten. The average is three out of ten. It is better but is it significant?

    • Nordy 1.3

      However, the Adams tweet refers to his “…strong commitment to having more women on the bench” – which is what the article is about – not promotions.

      The article also makes this distinction.

      So, the article is correct in picking up the ‘sloppy’ generalisation that Adams made.

      Perhaps that description is too kind, perhaps the tweet from Adams is really a lie, given how misleading it actually is, and the penchant this government has for making statements that are misleading, inaccurate or false.

      One only has to think of the current example; ‘sheepgate’, or just recently, the debacle that is Serco and ‘private prisons’.

  2. BLiP 2

    Not surprisingly really that Amy Adams, or any other National Ltd™ MP, would made make an admission like that. Such observations are indicative of National Ltd™’s collective understanding about how government works and who does what. They don’t care just so long as the deal gets done. In their mind you might as well replace the word “Paliament” with “bazaar”.

  3. greywarshark 3

    Can’t resist the cliche’. How Bizarre.

  4. Blue Horseshoe 4

    The Honourable Justice Winkelmann

    A glaring example of where ‘equality’ is no match for broken down frameworks

    The woman married to Fletcher would be another example

    • tracey 4.1

      sian elias? one of our most respected female jurists ever?

    • BLiP 4.2

      Hmmmm . . . I thought we were talking about Amy Adams saying something stupid again. What exactly is the point you are trying to make? I would hate to think your comment was a distraction.

      • Blue Horseshoe 4.2.1

        What the bleep are you on about ?

        There are multiple components in this post from which to view and comment on.

        But sure if you would like to chase Amy’s comments around then assume others must follow, you would be barking up the wrong bleepin tree.

        Life as people believe it to be is a myriads of distraction. Economics, politics, technology, sport [name the distraction] that’s all they are

        Following politics must be one of the most asinine distractions of the lot. Which is why I don’t engage directly nor hang off what the actors reading from their scripts have to say.

  5. Tigger 5

    Finlayson is well known for telling his male mates ‘want to be a Judge’? His crony appointing is legendary in legal circles.

  6. Instauration 6

    I read the claim of Amy Adams as an affirmation of a particular array of appointees to a specific “permanent bench” of the Appeal Court.
    There is a pool of potential appointees – gender unbalanced ;


    But someone ( maybe Finlayson ? ) – has selected three women from this pool for this bench.
    We should probably commend this selector.
    I am uncomfortable giving Amy any credence of fair and non-emcumbered judgment.
    I accept my “uncomfortableness” in this instance.

  7. Tory 7

    Good to see the left wanking on/sticking the boot into Finlayson and his appointment. As much as I hated his advocasy for Ngai Tahu he is an outstanding lawyer who has represented clients at the highest court on multiple occasions. You don’t have to like his politics but show some respect for what he has done. Oh, as this site likes to always request; provide the link and evidence of the allegations of cronyism otherwise STFU

    • Brendon Harre -Left wing Liberal 7.1

      What about a commitment for an independent judiciary rather than one that is a political football for politicians? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separation_of_powers

      Isn’t that what NZ needs -systems and processes that matches our democratic values and belief in open, honest and accountable governance?

      So Tory you can take your wanking stick somewhere private and the rest of us can try to clean up your Tory mess.

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