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The District Court leadership

The Chief District Court Judge and Principal Judges

The Chief District Court Judge is the head of the court. Appointed by the Governor-General, she is responsible for the orderly and efficient conduct of District Court business in all its divisions.

The Chief Judge has statutory authority to determine sessions of the court and to assign judges. The role includes managing workloads, overseeing scheduling and professional development and training, and making directions and setting standards for best practice.

The Principal Family Court Judge and the Principal Youth Court Judge have similar responsibilities in the divisions they head. They discharge these in consultation with the Chief District Court Judge.

The three judges serve as the public face of their courts and, combined, have more than 70 years’ experience on the bench.

They work as a cohesive team to best discharge the work before the courts, respond to resource challenges and to lead their colleagues in adapting to any law changes that affect their jurisdictions.

The Chief and Principal judges are supported in their administrative and strategic roles by the National Executive Judge.

The positions are based in Wellington but the Chief Judge, Judge Jan-Marie Doogue, the Principal Family Court Judge, Judge Laurence Ryan, and the Principal Youth Court Judge, Judge John Walker, are all sitting judges. They regularly preside at hearings around the country.

National Executive Judge

The National Executive Judge is based at the Chief Judge’s Chambers in Wellington. The role is to support the Chief Judge and Principal judges in their administrative and strategic roles.

Judge Lawry Hinton stepped into the role this year following the appointment of his predecessor, Judge Colin Doherty, as chairperson of the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

Judge Hinton’s role includes significant legal and policy work in chambers. He also sits at various courts around the country on specific assignments and has oversight of Community Magistrates.

Image of National Executive Judge, Judge Lawry Hinton.

Image of Principal Family Court Judge, Judge Laurence Ryan.Image of Chief District Court Judge, Judge Jan-Marie Doogue.Image of Principal Youth Court Judge, Judge John Walker.

National Executive Judge Lawry HintonPrincipal Family Court Judge Laurence RyanChief District Court Judge Jan-Marie DooguePrincipal Youth Court Judge John Walker