His Honour Judge John Walker
His Honour Judge Walker is the Principal Youth Court Judge of New Zealand and was appointed to that position in July 2016.
Judge Walker was born in Ireland and immigrated to New Zealand with his family at the age of three. He was educated at Palmerston North Boys High School, Massey University and Victoria University. Graduating with an LLB in 1975, Judge Walker practised in Palmerston North to 1985. He then moved to Wellington, where he became a partner in Macalister Mazengarb and then worked as a Barrister Sole at Harbour Chambers, with his main areas of practice being medico-legal law, resource management, civil law and employment law. Judge Walker was appointed to the District Court bench in 1994 with a jury trial warrant and Youth Court and Civil Court designations.
Since his appointment to the bench, Judge Walker has been involved in a number of roles relating to judicial administration and courts reform.
In 1999, Judge Walker developed and promoted a Youth Court response to drug and alcohol dependant young persons, which led to the development of the Youth Drug Court Pilot for Christchurch. He was Presiding Judge in the Youth Drug Court for the first three years of its operation (2002 – 2005). In 2002, he was engaged by the Chief Judge to develop District Court interventions for drug dependant adult offenders.
Judge Walker has been involved in judicial education through the Institute of Judicial Studies, and in studying the interface between courts and health agencies (through the Gary Harrison Fellowship). From mid 2009 through to 2016 he worked on developing Porirua District Court into a court connected with the community it serves (in line with the community justice centre model), and on mainstreaming solution-focused court practice. Since 2014 he has also been extensively involved in developing District Court responses to family violence.
Judge Walker has held a number of senior administrative and advisory positions including Executive Judge for Wellington (2004 - 2010), Specialised Regional Youth Court Judge for Wellington (2007 – 2010) and Advisory Member on the NZLS Continuing Legal Education Board (until 2007). Judge Walker was also appointed as Acting Chief District Court Judge and Acting Principal Youth Court Judge at various points from 2009 to 2014.
Judge Walker has acted on a number of committees including the District Court Management Committee (until January 2010); the Criminal Practice Committee (2005 – 2010), the Principal Youth Court Judge’s Advisory Group from 2008 to present; the Chief Judge’s Kaupapa Māori Advisory Group; the International Framework for Court Excellence Committee; the Police Family Violence Change Programme External Steering Group and the New Zealand member on the Asia Pacific Council for Juvenile Justice.
In his spare time, Judge Walker enjoys pursuing his interests in restoration of classic cars, architecture, fly fishing, gardening, woodworking, blacksmithing, photography, and many other distractions.