Courts beef up benches with new acting High Court judges, District Court judges

All 10 new judges will commence their new roles in January and February

Courts beef up benches with new acting High Court judges, District Court judges

The New Zealand courts have beefed up the benches with the appointments of three new acting High Court judges and seven new District Court judges.

Chief Justice Dame Helen Winkelmann announced this week that Christine Gordon, Paul Davison and David Gendall will join the High Court as acting judges in order to aid the court in handling the heightened workload that resulted from COVID-19. The appointments, Winkelmann said, were determined by the governor-general based on the recommendation of Attorney-General David Parker.

Gordon will begin sitting effective 22 February 2023, with her term lasting until 31 December 2024. Davison will commence on 2 February 2023 with his term ending on 31 August 2023. Finally, Gendall’s term will run from 1 February 2023 to 31 August 2023.

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Meanwhile, Parker revealed that Auckland coroner Debra Anne Bell, Auckland barrister Kathryn Gail Davenport KC, Auckland barrister Simon John Lance, New Plymouth lawyer Justin Marijan Marinovich, Auckland solicitor Melinda Mere Mason, Dunedin solicitor Campbell David Savage, and Chief Coroner Anna Joan Tutton would join the District Court bench.

The seven new judges will succeed their recently retired predecessors.

Bell will sit in Auckland following her swearing-in ceremony on 9 January. Prior to becoming coroner in 2015, she was the managing partner of Meredith Connell’s Manukau office. Subsequently, she joined the independent bar.

Davenport will also sit in Auckland. The civil and commercial litigation specialist attained the KC distinction in 2013, and held leadership roles as a former NZ Bar Association president and as a former vice president of the Law Society. Her term commences on 21 February.

Another Auckland-based judge, Lance focuses on criminal law. He founded the Lance Lawson law firm in Rotorua, where he was the senior partner for a decade. He has been involved in regulatory prosecutions, and has appeared before the District Court, High Court and Court of Appeal as counsel. His term as District Court judge begins on 10 January.

Marinovch will sit in Whanganui. In addition to conducting jury trials at the High Court and District Court, he appeared in the Youth Court and helps to oversee the Crown Warrant at New Plymouth for the Crown Solicitor. He also launched C & M Legal in New Plymouth.

His swearing-in ceremony takes place on 13 January.

Mason will be based in Tauranga. She is part of the NZDF legal panel, and was a foundation employee in the Public Defence Service’s pilot project in Manukau. She launched Mason and Mortimer Lawyers in 2015, and has tackled criminal, youth, civil and family law.

She takes the bench on 11 January.

Savage will operate from Timaru. He has served as Public Defender Southern for four years, and has supervised public defence service lawyers. He was previously a partner at O’Driscoll and Marks as well as Aspinall Joel.

He commences as judge on 12 January.

Tutton’s general jurisdiction will be in Wellington following her swearing-on on 30 January. She was named chief coroner just last month, after being named coroner in 2015 and deputy chief coroner in 2020.

She previously managed the New Zealand Police’s legal team, and has taken on roles as a High Court Judges’ clerk, assistant Crown counsel, Crown Prosecutor, senior counsel at the Commerce Commission and deputy national director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies.

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