Mike Antunovic

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Mike Antunovic
Born Ivan Michael Antunovic
Alma mater Victoria University, Faculty of Law
Occupation Criminal defence lawyer
Years active 1979 – present
Website antunoviclaw.co.nz

Ivan Michael "Mike" Antunovic is a New Zealand criminal defence lawyer. Antunovic is one of New Zealand's most experienced jury trial lawyers, and has appeared in some of New Zealand's most high-profile criminal cases.

High-profile cases[edit]

Olivia Hope and Ben Smart murder[edit]

He is best known for co-counselling[1] the 13-week trial of Scott Watson, who was charged with the double murder of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope on New Year's Eve 1997. Watson was found guilty of the murders. Mike Antunovic and Greg King unsuccessfully appealed the case to the Privy Council. The case is one of New Zealand's most famous murder trials.[2]

Death of Janet Moses by family members using exorcism[edit]

In 2007, 22-year-old Janet Moses died after members of her family poured water into her eyes and down her throat at a Wainuiomata flat. Six women and three men plead not guilty in the High Court at Wellington to manslaughter. Mike Antunovic's argued that instead of trying to commit a criminal offence, the defendants were in reality trying to help Moses. After 17 hours of deliberation on 12 June 2009, the jury returned guilty of manslaughter verdicts for five of the family members.[3]

Other notable trials[edit]

  • Antunovic successfully defended David Bourke, accused of murdering his brother.[4]
  • Antunovic defended Stephen Hudson in a murder trial that was unusual as it was one of the few New Zealand cases where no body has been found.[5]
  • Autunovic is one of the last New Zealand lawyers to run the partial defence of provocation.[6]

National name suppression controversy[edit]

In 2009 Antunovic represented a police recruit who was accused of rape. The trial was aborted before a verdict was reached. The recruit's name was made publicly available and had detrimental impacts on his career.[7] The case is notable in New Zealand as it sparked a national debate about the availability of name suppression and the application of the Bill of Rights to a defendant who has yet to be found guilty.[8]

Further name suppression controversy occurred when right-wing blogger Cameron Slater, the son of former National Party President John Slater,[9] repeatedly defied court orders by illegally identifying several high-profile New Zealanders protected by name suppression orders. Antunovic spoke to the national media and condemned Slater's actions.[10] On 14 September 2010 Cameron was convicted of eight counts of breaching name suppression orders and one count of identifying a victim in a sex case.[11]

Current practise[edit]

Antunovic runs a criminal law practice with his daughter Sarah Antunovic out of Wellington, New Zealand.


  1. ^ crime.co.nz The powerhouse legal teams involved in the trial of Scott Watson Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  2. ^ crime.co.nz Operation TAM - One of NZ's highest profile investigations Retrieved 4 June 2011
  3. ^ "Anger over manslaughter verdicts". One News / NZPA. 12 June 2009. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  4. ^ Marcus Lush "Mike Autunovic successfully defended David Bourke against murder - Radio Interview". 10 November 2010. Retrieved 4 June 2011
  5. ^ "Defence urges jury not to convict out of pity". Television New Zealand. NZPA. 24 November 2009. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  6. ^ "Man guilty of wife's murder". Television New Zealand. NZPA. 6 May 2010. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  7. ^ "Calls for name suppression for rape accused". One News. 26 March 2009. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  8. ^ "Mud Sticks". Victoria University. 30 April 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  9. ^ "Internet warrior". Sunday Star Times. 12 July 2009. 
  10. ^ "Blogger breaks suppression order - again". Stuff.co.nz. NZPA. 25 May 2010. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  11. ^ Francis, Clio (14 September 2010). "Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater guilty". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 

External links[edit]