Legal horoscopes

I’m on the cusp of Aries and Band Two of Fatu.


Aries (March 21 – April 19)

You’ll struggle with a constant sense of rejection as you try to get a registrar to accept an application for probate.

Something will happen this month that will require you to seek the mercy of others, at least until the Criminal Cases Review Commission is established.

A mistake calculating working days will have unexpected benefits.


Taurus (April 20 – May 20)

Everyone is so very accepting of all you have to offer, except that one self-represented litigant who is dodging service.

Sometimes going through the motions is all you can do, especially if you’re presiding over the miscellaneous motions list.

Under no circumstances use Latin terms in your court documents.


Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

Your sense of satisfaction will be greatly increased this month, but so too will be the costs ordered against your client.

Mars is in your house this month, which is technically trespass.  Go to your bathroom, lock the door and call the Police.

Part 30 of the High Court Rules will hold special meaning for you.


Cancer (June 21 – July 22)

The safest place after a bank robbery is the smashed vault that’s crawling with armed cops and ringed with Police tape.  By that logic, Russell McVeagh looks pretty good right now.

If the courts can call the 11.30am break “morning tea” then 9.15am is a perfectly acceptable time to get to work.

Use Latin terms in your court documents at every opportunity.


Leo (July 23 – August 22)

It never rains but it pours this month, as you finally get a case on Decisions of Public Interest but it’s one where you got an absolute pantsing.

Write down three things you hope to accomplish this month and then send it to yourself in a letter, to be opened after thirty days.  Be sure to label the letter without prejudice.

Words come easily to you this month but so do prolix pleadings.


Virgo (August 23 – September 22)

Too many cooks spoil the broth, but three Cookes have made it to the High Court bench.  It just goes to show that you can’t place great store in platitudes.

At last people will start seeing your inner queen.  Why else would they be establishing a *Royal* Commission into you?

If anyone tries to challenge you, plead three aggressive affirmative defences.


Libra (September 23 – October 22)

This month you’ll realise that some things just aren’t meant to be, as you ask for your third amendment to timetabling.

You have to spend 10 hours per year becoming a better lawyer but no hours per year becoming a better person.

Read McGechan on Procedure for an hour every night before bed.


Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)

What’s that old saying? “Lawyers, guns, and money – pick any two.”  A new brief will come across your desk that shows you that you were right to hold out for all three.

You’ll feel your age this month when you realise your standard form notice of appearance still says you’ll accept service via fax.

You will get news you will want to tell everyone.  Tell your insurer first though.


Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)

A voyage of discovery will see you spending late nights at the office reviewing documents for privilege.

Your own truth is personal to you, but it won’t get you very far if you can’t point to where it is in the agreed summary of facts.

If Mai Chen calls, don’t pick up.


Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)

Your efforts to be less judgemental will be put to the test as you accept appointment to the District Court bench.

Now matter how early the bird is, the worm can’t give more than a 25% discount for a guilty plea.

Beware of the rule in Re G J Mannix Ltd.


Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)

A tough choice between your personal and professional lives beckons this month as you have to choose between losing your appeal and losing your appeal.

You’ve always struggled to get answers despite being such a particular person.  This month you’ll realise that it’s because people aren’t required to respond to particulars.

Despite raising your standards you will get in trouble with a Standards Committee.


Pisces (February 19 – March 20)

Being proven right in your personal life will come as a relief, but the same can’t be said in your application for judicial review where you’ll be proven right but relief is discretionary.

You won’t always get it right the first time, but then, neither did the Supreme Court in Saxmere.

Pleading won’t change anything, so try a form of alternative dispute resolution.


Famous songs as written by lawyers

Tuxedo Injunction – Glenn Miller and his Orchestra

Sitting In the Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding

Where You Plead – Carole King

Lien On Me – Bill Withers

Van Bohemen J Rhapsody – Queen

Section 4(5) Seconds – Kanye West, Rihanna, Paul McCartney

Sympathy for the Treasury Devil – Rolling Stones

The Prominent Entertainer – Scott Joplin

The Night They Read Old Dixie Down – The Band

Working 5 To 9 – Dolly Parton

Ademption Song – Bob Marley and The Wailers

50 Ways To Grant Leave To Your Lover – Paul Simon



Advice on not thinking about law all the time

It’s important to have a life outside law.

Take up a sport.  Tennis at least means you won’t spend your whole day at court.  In summertime village cricket is the delight of everyone.  If sailing is your thing then you can find a place to partake with a simple dock identification.

Update your wardrobe.  Take a tailored discovery.  If you have four pairs of flat-fronted pants then pleat the fifth.  Change to boxers; amend your briefs.  Re-examine that old attaché and patch up the holes in your case.  If you have veils, pierce them.

Philosophy is another refuge.  I may not qualify as an expert but here’s my opinion.  If you focus on the leading questions the answers will soon be suggested to you.  Recall your wrong judgements.  Mistakes are common, and seldom unilateral.  True meaning cannot be found by only having regard to extrinsic things.

Give back.  Service can seldom be substituted.  An exchange of value is something you should at least give consideration.  Be the beneficiary of trusty companions.

If you can’t find a cause of action then strike out on your own,  even when it seems like there is little prospect of increased security.  And when you develop an interest, work to perfect it.  You’ll soon find yourself speaking in circumstances that attract confidence.  Set aside others’ caveats.  When you find yourself at a crossroads, be sure to look around, because after all it’s always best to observe in junctions.

If things look like they’re going to run away on you, don’t bail.  Turn to religion if you have to; plenty of people have been restored by the accounts of prophets.

There will be times when mercy won’t be your prerogative.  When people plead poorly, you do not need to respond.  And when things turn to custard, well, we’re not concerned with trifles.

It’s quite the undertaking.

But be unwaivering.

And above all stop thinking about law all the goddamn time.  It’s not healthy.

The highest court in the land

This tiny picture of the Ohakune District Court hearing centre is the only picture that Google offers.

One of my aspirations as a young advocate is to one day have the opportunity to make submissions in the highest court in the land.

By which I mean the court that has the greatest elevation above sea level.

According to a highly scientific free online website that lets you type in addresses and tells you the altitude of a point, I can confirm that the highest court in the land is the Ohakune District Court hearing centre.  Of course, it’s only a hearing centre which means it isn’t open all the time.  But no one said appearing in the highest court would be easy.  It’s like that old how do you get to Carnegie Hall joke: except for a lawyer it’s practice of a different kind.

My innovative new juridi-geographical hierarchy of courts heralds a new way of conceiving the relative status of our courts and definitely warrants a hefty grant from the Borrin Foundation.  As an initial proposal, I call on the Supreme Court to immediately begin hearing cases in Ohakune.  The slopes of Turoa and Whakapapa will make excellent locations for Supreme Court Judges to take skiing holidays with counsel after the hearings.

Notable findings of my initial survey conclude what we have known all along, like the fact the Court of Appeal is a higher court than the Supreme Court.  It also reveals surprising findings such as the fact that the Auckland District Court is the highest court in Auckland.  In this, I haven’t factored in the Court of Appeal hearing centre in Auckland, which is halfway up a tall office building and the subject of previous comment.

The results are below.  I haven’t done every court because I have some submissions I really need to finish…  I am quietly sceptical of some of the precise readings (Is the Supreme Court really 22 metres above sea level?  And does the Hutt Valley District Court have a lower altitude than central Wellington courts?) so don’t @ me to quibble about the  results of the ultra-precise methodology I have used!


(Partial) Hierarchy of the highest courts in the land

585 metres – Ohakune District Court hearing centre

440 metres – Taihape District Court

373 metres – Taupo District Court

324 metres – Queenstown District Court

186 metres – Kaikohe District Court

146 metres – Alexandra District Court

104 metres – Ashburton District Court

59 metres – Te Kuiti District Court

43 metres – Auckland District Court

39 metres – Auckland High Court

37 metres – Palmerston North High/District Court (this really doesn’t seem right?!)

36 metres – Manukau District Court

33 metres – Levin District Court

26 metres – Court of Appeal of New Zealand

25 metres – Tauranga High Court

24 metres – Tauranga District Court

22 metres – Supreme Court of New Zealand

22 metres – Kaitaia District Court

19 metres – Papakura District Court

18 metres – Chatham Islands District Court

11 metres – Hutt Valley District Court

8 metres – Opotiki District Court hearing centre

8 metres – Blenheim District Court

7 metres – Dunedin High/District Court

Nonsense on Twitter – week of 1 April 2019