David Carruthers (judge)

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Judge Sir

David James Carruthers

Chief District Court Judge
In office
June 2001 – June 2005
Chair of New Zealand Parole Board
In office
Succeeded byJustice Warwick Gendall
Chair of Independent Police Conduct Authority
Assumed office
Preceded byJustice Lowell Goddard QC

Sir David James Carruthers KNZM is a long-serving member of the New Zealand legal community. He worked as a lawyer in Wellington, Pahiatua and Palmerston North, before being appointed as a Family Court Judge in 1985. In 2001 Carruthers was appointed as Chief District Court Judge, a position he held until 2005, when he was appointed as the chairman of the New Zealand Parole Board. In 2012, Carruthers joined the Independent Police Conduct Authority as its chairman.

Early life and career[edit]

Carruthers was born and raised in Pahiatua, New Zealand.[1] He attended Victoria University, Wellington where he studied law graduating in 1962. He completed his masters in law passing with honours two years later. He practised law in Wellington and Pahiatua for 20 years before moving to Palmerston North.[2] Carruthers is married and has five children.

In 1985 Carruthers was appointed as a judge in the Family Court in Wellington. Five years later he became a judge in the Youth Court, eventually being appointed as Principal Youth Court Judge. In 2000 Carruthers was asked to lead a Ministerial Taskforce on Youth Offending to come up with initiatives designed to reduce youth crime after Ministry of Justice figures showed that "over the 1990s, offending by 10- to 16-year-olds increased by 55%".[3] In 2001 Carruthers was appointed as Chief District Court Judge, a position he held until 2005. In the Queen's Birthday Honours of 2005, Carruthers was appointed as a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit and was redesignated as a Knight of the New Zealand Order of Merit upon the reinstitution of titular honours in 2009.[4][5]

Carruthers also served as a judge on the High Court of Vanuatu.

Public speeches[edit]

Carruthers has given speeches at numerous conferences and seminars both in New Zealand and overseas. For many years he has pushed for a more humane approach to dealing with criminal offenders advocating, in particular, for increased use of restorative and therapeutic justice approaches.[1] He has held a number of public and charitable offices and recommended greater focus on education, and interventions for youth and families rather than locking up more and more offenders.[6]

Speaking at a criminology conference in November 2012, Carruthers commented on the reduction in New Zealand's crime rate. He believes the drop may be due to efforts to reduce the number of teenagers being suspended or expelled from school.[7]

Chairman of New Zealand Parole Board[edit]

Carruthers was appointed Chairman of the New Zealand Parole Board in 2005,[8] a position he held until 2012. He was head of the Board when it made the decision to release Graeme Burton from prison in July 2006. Six months later Burton shot and killed Karl Kuchenbecker in the hills of Wainuiomata and injured a number of others. Shortly after the murder, Carruthers fronted up for media interviews and spoke about how devastated he felt. He admitted to an "extraordinary sense of personal responsibility" that Burton's release had resulted in two boys losing their father.[9]

Head of Independent Police Conduct Authority[edit]

In April 2012, Parliament appointed Carruthers as the new chairman of the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA).[10]


  1. ^ a b Speakers page of the 10th World Conference of the International Ombudsman Institute
  2. ^ New Parole Board appointments announced, InfoNews 9 June 2011
  3. ^ Press release Steve Maharey, 3 October 2000 Ministerial Taskforce on youth offending
  4. ^ "The Queen's Birthday Honours List 2005". DPMC. 6 June 2005. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  5. ^ "Special Honours List 1 August 2009". DPMC. 1 August 2009. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  6. ^ Speaker Biographies, International Conference on Restorative Conferencing Tuesday March 2006, Belfast
  7. ^ Schools do their bit to cut crime NZ Herald 28 November 2012
  8. ^ Press release, Michael Cullen 24 March 2005, New Parole Board Chair Appointed
  9. ^ Tapu Misa: Odd chinks in the gloom, NZ Herald 31
  10. ^ Judge Carruthers appointed new IPCA chair, TV3 News, 5 April 2012