Judith Potter

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The Honourable
Dame Judith Potter
Justice of the High Court
In office

Dame Judith Marjorie Potter DNZM CBE (born 1942) is a former High Court Judge in New Zealand.


Potter graduated from the University of Auckland in 1965, and went on to become a senior partner at law firm, Kensington Swan. She is the former President of the Auckland District Law Society and was the first woman president of the New Zealand Law Society.[1]

On 20 March 1997 Potter was appointed as a judge of the High Court of New Zealand[1][2] Potter has presided over several high-profile cases in her 15 years on the bench.[3] One such case which prompted a mild rebuke from the United Nations Human Rights Committee[4] was the criminal conviction of twelve-year-old Emelysifa Jessop for aggravated robbery. In 1998, Potter convicted and sentenced the girl to 4 years. When this conviction was overturned on grounds the judge had convicted Miss Jessop despite her not entering a plea, Potter presided over the retrial and sentenced the girl to 4 years and eight months.[5]

Her previous roles include director of the Electricity Corporation, a director of the New Zealand Guardian Trust Company, chairwoman of the Broadcasting Standards Authority and a member of the Securities Commission.[3]

In 2000 Potter issued an influential ruling balancing the rights of those alleging harassment and the rights of freedom of expression in Beadle v Allen.[6] In 2007 Potter jailed website editor Vince Siemer for his continual breaches of a High Court injunction.[7][8] Potter has been criticised in the media for sentences which were considered excessively lenient.[9][10]

On 31 December 2012 Potter retired from the bench in New Zealand[11] and accepted an appointment to the High Court of the Cook Islands.[12]

Honours, titles and style[edit]

In the New Year Honours 1994 Potter was appointed a Commander of the The Order of the British Empire for services to the legal profession.[13] and became Judith Potter, CBE.

On 20 March 1997 on appointment to the High Court of New Zealand became The Honourable Justice Judith Potter CBE.

On 27 August 2012 Potter was granted the right to retain the title of "The Honourable" for life in recognition of her service as a Judge of the High Court of New Zealand.[14]

In the New Year Honours 2013 Potter was appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.[15] and became The Honourable Justice Dame Judith Potter DNZM, CBE.


  1. ^ a b Justice Judith Potter - LLB Archived 2012-07-19 at the Wayback Machine.. The University of Auckland.
  2. ^ "Appointment of Judge of the High Court" (20 March 1997) 25 "The New Zealand Gazette 617.
  3. ^ a b Dickison, Michael (31 December 2012). "New Year Honours: Dame Judith Potter". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 10 January 2013. 
  4. ^ Emelysifa Jessop v New Zealand Communication No. 1758/2008, 21 April 2008
  5. ^ background, Jessop v Queen SC8/2006 [2007] NZSC 96, 30.11.07
  6. ^ Beadle v Allen [2000] NZFLR 639 at 662 para 36-40
  7. ^ Stiassny v Siemer CIV-2005-404-1808, 30 March 2011
  8. ^ "Stoush with Stiassny ends in jail". Stuff.co.nz. 20 July 2007. Retrieved 11 September 2011. 
  9. ^ Andrew Koubaridis (30 September 2009). "Road-rage sentence shocks family". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 11 September 2011. 
  10. ^ Isaac Davison (3 June 2010). "Killer's sentence 'makes mockery of young man's life'". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 11 September 2011. 
  11. ^ "Appointment of Acting Judge of High Court" (4 October 2012) 122 "The New Zealand Gazette" 3449 at 3484.
  12. ^ "Potter: Honour highlights women's role". Auckland Now. 31 December 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2013. 
  13. ^ "No. 53528". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1993. p. 33. 
  14. ^ "Retention of the Title ‘The Honourable’" (6 September 2012) 110 The New Zealand Gazette 3125 at 3150.
  15. ^ "New Year Honours List 2013". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2012. Retrieved 31 December 2012.