Serving Wellington: the most varied job in the world

Judge Peter Butler — District Court Judge

I have been a judge for 14 years, first in Invercargill, then as resident judge at Hutt Valley District Court, and now in Wellington.

This means I still occasionally sit in the Hutt Valley, but also in Porirua, Masterton, Nelson and Blenheim.

Image of Judge Butler.My work has always been in the criminal jurisdiction, but I find the work in these various locations as diverse as the locations themselves. Each court presents its own challenges, and the responses required for each are different. The variety of criminal offences will vary from court to court, as do the people, cultures and backgrounds.

I am much busier now than when I became a judge in 2003. A projected drop in criminal offending has not yet become a reality in the courts where I sit. However, mentally ill, poverty-stricken hapless people form a greater part of those who come before the court.

In other ways too, the work has become more exacting. Quite rightly, public scrutiny of a judge’s performance is now at a higher level than it was back in 2003. This factor requires the judge to ensure care in the preparation and disposal of work.

Wellington provides me with a font of collegiate views and support from my fellow judges. The other views are sometimes disregarded. The support is always accepted and appreciated.

I once told a colleague who had just accepted appointment as a District Court judge that he was coming to the most varied job in the world. That assessment was based on instinct, but I am pleased to say that as my time as a judge draws to a close, I still maintain that view.

"Quite rightly, public scrutiny of a judge’s performance is at a higher level than it was back in 2003 …"