Swearing-in of new judge

New Zealand’s newest District Court Judge has paid tribute to her late husband Professor Gerald Orchard at her swearing-in – the first at Christchurch’s new Justice Precinct.

A powhiri was held before the swearing-in ceremony for Judge Deidre Orchard in Court 1, where the Maori Land Court normally sits.

Judge Orchard, who has been a Crown prosecutor in Christchurch for 13 years, will take up her posting in Whangarei where Chief District Court Judge Jan-Marie Doogue said she would join a team of six judges.

Judge Doogue said it was a region with complex challenges for the criminal justice system, including some isolated communities facing economic difficulties.

Judge Orchard will be returning to the region where she was born, though her family moved away when she was a baby.

She has now had 40 years in legal practice. In 1977, she married Professor Orchard who was the Senior Lecturer in law at Canterbury University. He was appointed professor in 1982, and was the Dean of Law at Canterbury from 1989.

The couple had one son, Matthew, who attended the swearing-in ceremony.

Professor Orchard died of a brain tumour in 2003, aged 58.

Christchurch QC Pip Hall told the ceremony that Professor Orchard would have been “bursting with pride” to see his wife become a judge.

Christchurch’s Crown Solicitor, Mark Zarifeh, where Judge Orchard has worked as a prosecutor, said her departure marked the end of an era for Raymond Donnelly and Co. “We are losing a matriarch of a firm that prides itself on being a family,” he said.

Judge Orchard said her husband had been “a lawyer to his fingertips”.

“He was unfailingly kind, courteous, and friendly. He got on well with everyone. He was one of the good guys.

“I will try my best to remember the lessons I learned from him and from others in my new role,” said Judge Orchard.

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