28 Oct 2016

Judge on sick leave after 'minor fracas'

6:13 pm on 28 October 2016

A District Court judge who allegedly struck a lawyer with her crutch during a charity event at Auckland's Northern Club is currently on sick leave.

However, the lawyer involved said the incident had been grossly exaggerated and described the anonymous complaint made in writing to the Judicial Conduct Commissioner as "illiterate".

RNZ understands Judge Anna Johns was involved in a brief verbal altercation with Scott Leith at the charity event for Te Rangimarie Charitable Trust on 30 September.

The judge had recently undergone hip surgery and was using crutches. She was said to have struck Mr Leith with her crutch.

Mr Leith, who was now overseas, said he had seen the written complaint and did not support it.

He described the incident as a "minor fracas", and said he was sure the matter would be resolved once the parties had a chance to talk to the authority.

He said he could not comment further.

The office of Chief District Court Judge Jan-Marie Doogue confirmed the matter had been referred to the judicial conduct committee.

A spokesperson for Judge Doogue said the integrity of the process must be respected and she could not comment on the matter.

She said the judge had been on sick leave since the chief judge became aware of it.

The charity dinner for Te Rangimarie Charitable Trust was hosted by comedian Guy Williams and attended by senior lawyers from across Auckland.

The trust was established in 2014 to help social worker Michelle Kidd continue her work providing support to people in court.