Judge shows little tolerance to court disruptions

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JUDGE Christopher Harding showed little tolerance for disruptions in the Opotiki District Court last week, finding a McKenzie friend in contempt and ordering him into custody.

Peter Warren was held in contempt after ignoring multiple warnings about the way he was speaking.

He appeared as McKenzie friend for Blain Tauwawa Maihi, who was appearing for case review on charges of assault with a knife, wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, dangerous driving and failing to stop for police.

By definition, a McKenzie friend is a support person to a defendant in court who does not have legal representation, and they do not need to be legally qualified.

A McKenzie friend is allowed to prompt, advise and take notes, but does not legally represent the defendant.

In spite of this, Judge Harding said Mr Warren claimed to represent Maihi on the basis of being the king of New Zealand.

“He has filed a number of documents claiming to be the inherent king,” Judge Harding said.

Although given multiple warnings, Mr Warren continued to speak over Judge Harding and disrupt the court, leading to the order that he be taken into custody.

“He is not entitled to speak to the court as he did,” Judge Harding said.

Mr Warren was held in custody for the remainder of the morning, with the judge explaining upon his release why he was held.

Judge Harding also declined to allow Mr Warren to act as a Mckenzie friend for Maihi in the future.

This was not Judge Harding’s only disciplinary action, as a phone ringing in the public forum prompted him to say any other phones ringing would be confiscated by court staff.

 

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