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District Court Judge Appointed

Hon Dr Michael Cullen

19 December 2006 Media Statement

District Court Judge Appointed

New Plymouth lawyer Stephen Maxwell Harrop has been appointed a District Court Judge, Attorney-General Michael Cullen announced today.

After admission in December 1981, Mr Harrop worked for Stout, Hewat, Binnie and Howorth in Invercargill in a general common law position. After a year of OE in 1984 he had some prosecution experience, in both police and departmental cases, for some 18 months from January 1985 to August 1986 when employed by Preston, Evans, Noble & Early in Invercargill, and from August 1986 to December 1988 was with Arthur Watson Savage, also in Invercargill, doing mainly civil litigation but also criminal and family law.

Mr Harrop joined Billings in New Plymouth in 1989 as litigation staff solicitor (civil and criminal) and became litigation partner in January 1991. Since joining Billings his work has been predominantly civil and commercial litigation of all kinds but also criminal litigation including jury work (defence), estate related litigation in the Family Court and ACC work.

Mr Harrop was a Council member of the Taranaki District Law Society from 1995 to 1999, Vice President from 1999 to 2001 and President from 2001 to 2003. He was also a Council member of the New Zealand Law Society from 2001 to 2003 and has been on the NZLS Litigation Skills Course faculty since 1997. He is a Fellow of AMINZ (in Arbitration).

Mr Harrop will be sworn in at New Plymouth on 8 February 2007 and will sit in Wellington.


19 December 2006 Media Statement

District Court Judge Appointed

Auckland lawyer Elizabeth Margaret Aitken has been appointed a District Court Judge, Attorney-General Michael Cullen announced today.

Ms Aitken has served as a member of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority since 1995 and is currently Chair. She is also Deputy Presiding Member of the Deportation Review Tribunal. She has previously served as a member of the Removal Review Authority and the Residence Appeals Authority. She served as a Residential Tenancies Tribunal Adjudicator from 1990 to 1996.

Previous experience was as a barrister sole in Otahuhu from 1989 to 1996. Her practice was mostly criminal defence work including jury trials in the District Court and High Court. She was also on the Mental Health roster representing those subject to Mental Health Act proceedings. She had earlier worked as a litigation solicitor in London for 5 years.

Ms Aitken has been Co-Convenor of the Women’s Consultative Group of the NZ Law Society, a member of the Criminal Law Committee of the NZ Law Society, President of the Auckland Women Lawyers’ Association and is currently a Council member of the International Association of Refugee Law Judges.

Ms Aitken will be sworn in on 5 February 2007 and will sit in Auckland.


19 December 2006 Media Statement

District Court Judge Appointed

Auckland lawyer Philippa Anne Cunningham has been appointed a District Court Judge, Attorney-General Michael Cullen announced today.

A former nurse, Ms Cunningham has been a barrister sole in Auckland since 1998, after three years as a partner in Cairns Slane. She had been staff solicitor and civil litigation partner in Davenports between 1984 and 1995.

She is a former councillor and mayor of Mt Eden Borough. In 1987/88 she served as junior Counsel to Lowell Goddard, counsel assisting the inquiry into cervical cancer, and in 1990/91 chaired the Cartwright Evaluation Team monitoring the implementation of the recommendations of the Cartwright Inquiry. She was appointed to the Legal Aid Review Panel in 2002 and served on the National Ethics Committee for Health and Disability from 2001 to 2004. Since 2005 she has been the Chair of ECART (Ethics Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technologies), which was established under the HART Act (Human Assisted Reproductive Technologies Act). She completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Professional Ethics in 2004.

Ms Cunningham has had 22 years experience in civil and family work. Her civil experience includes contract, tort, and equitable claims both in the District Court and the High Court, including medical law cases. She has undertaken a broad range of family law work, particularly in relationship property, estate litigation, testamentary promises and PPPR cases. More recently she has been instructed on High Court immigration cases (appeals and judicial review proceedings). She undertook a large amount of criminal work for the first 8 years of her legal career, including jury trials.

Ms Cunningham will be sworn in on 2 March 2007 and will sit in Auckland.


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