Power List Headliner Michael Heron KC Fronts Bourkes Law Inquiry
Top ranking Power List member Michael Heron KC is to head another inquiry, this time into a community magistrate who threatened to have criminal lawyer Sami Taghavi placed in a cell for allegedly using a cellphone in Court.
According to her online profile, Taghavi, from Active Legal, who has previously been labeled ‘Bulldog’ by a former government minister, subsequently complained about the attempt to have her briefly imprisoned to Chief District Court Judge Heemi Taumaunu.
The Court incident saw her escorted from Court by a security guard and having her phone checked to see if photographs had been taken.
The Stuff report indicated that Heron had been appointed to investigate the complaint, which follows other issues relating to Terence Bourke, who has already received adverse publicity for apparently using a bus lane on his motorbike and a neighbourhood dispute issue.
The Chief District Court Judge issued an apology to Taghavi on behalf of the magistrate and she said “I am grateful that this matter is being taken seriously and that it is progressing, as it will help restore confidence among the defense bar that their complaints are handled with the seriousness they deserve.”
Bourke has been the subject of other comments and complaint according to reports. One criminal lawyer reported by Stuff said “I have never known someone so unpopular and despised sitting on the bench… Justice is not dispensed in his court, it is the law according to Bourke.”
Michael Heron KC, a former Solicitor General, has undertaken several high-profile inquiries including an examination of athlete care at Cycling NZ and High Performance Sport NZ following the suspected suicide of Olivia Podmore.
He also led the inquiry into the 2010 Anzac Day Air Force helicopter crash and participated in the review of Immigration NZ’s deportation liability process following the Karel Sroubek scandal.
Community Magistrates have powers that extend those of Justices of the Peace in the administration of justice at District Court level, but they do not have the power to imprison offenders. Instead they may impose a range of other sentences, such as reparation, community-based sentences (such as community detention or community work), disqualification from driving, and fines.
The current brouhaha has no announced timeline but the apparent overreach from a low-level judicial officer with a colourful track record of behaviour will be one that may be seen to redden faces at the Ministry of Justice, either from embarrassment, anger or both.