December 2015
  • Judicial Recusal and Removal — A
    Comparative Study of the New Zealand
    Wilson Saga

    Michael WR Adams and HP Lee

This article provides a critical and comparative analysis of the saga involving Justice Wilson of the New Zealand Court of Appeal. The saga provides a backdrop for a discussion of judicial bias and judicial recusal, as well as the complaints and removal system, in Australia and New Zealand. Reference is made to selected episodes involving recusal applications in Australia and the United States. The article also explores whether a register of pecuniary interests of judicial of?cers should be mandated by statute.

bias; judicial recusal; Justice Wilson; judicial complaints; judicial removal; register of pecuniary interests
Click here to read extracts of the article

This article is a study of a controversial episode which occurred in New Zealand in 2010, and uses that episode as the foundation for a comparative analysis of the problems recusal raises for the judicial branch of government. The episode concerns a senior judge, Justice Wilson of the New Zealand Court of Appeal, who was sucked into the eye of a storm resulting ultimately in his resignation. The impact of this episode and its rami?cations are explored within the context of the recognition accorded to an impartial judiciary as a vital aspect of the rule of law in a democratic polity. The rule against bias, which is one of the twin pillars of “procedural fairness” endorsed by the highest courts in most common law countries, is examined, as well as the practice of judicial recusal undertaken in deference to that rule. It will consider whether the common law system of self-regulation can be considered to be more effective than the system of statutory regulation of recusal procedure used in the United States, as wellas the desirability of judicial review. It will also engage in a comparative analysis of the complaints and removal system of judicialof? cers in Australia and New Zealand.