Judith Potter

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

Dame Judith Potter

Potter in 2013
Justice of the High Court
In office
Personal details
Born1942 (age 7677)
Alma materUniversity of Auckland


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] Potter was the second woman to become a judge in the Cook Islands following Christine Grice.[13]

Honours, titles and style

In 1993, Potter was awarded the New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal.[14]

In the 1994 New Year Honours, Potter was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to the legal profession,[15] and became Judith Potter CBE.

On 20 March 1997, on her appointment to the High Court of New Zealand, she 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.[16]

In the 2013 New Year Honours, Potter was appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to the judiciary,[17] and became The Honourable Justice Dame Judith Potter DNZM CBE.

See also


  1. 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. 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. Author, Legacy. "Judge Judy appointed". Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  14. "The New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal 1993 – register of recipients". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 26 July 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  15. "No. 53528". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1993. p. 33.
  16. "Retention of the Title ‘The Honourable’" (6 September 2012) 110 The New Zealand Gazette 3125 at 3150.
  17. "New Year honours list 2013". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2012. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
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