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Man re-sentenced on domestic violence charges after lawyer criticised judge for granting him a discharge without conviction

A man at the centre of a domestic violence case which prompted a lawyer to call for judges to be better trained has been sentenced for his crime.

Lawyer Catriona MacLennan says the domestic violence act is excellent law but is not being applied properly. Source: Q+A

A 58-year-old man faced Judge John Brandts Giesen at the end of last year, and was at first granted a discharge without conviction after assaulting his wife, daughter and a male friend.

Judge Giesen expressed some sympathy, saying "there would be many people who would have done exactly what you did, even though it may be against the law to do so".

Police appealed that sentence, and the judge's decision was also criticised by a number of people including lawyer Catriona MacLennan.

The man was today re-sentenced in Queenstown to a $300 fine, $1000 in reparations to his wife and $2000 in reparations to his daughter, totalling $3300.

Ms MacLennan, a spokeswoman for the Auckland Coalition for the Safety of Women and Children, is now facing a Law Society hearing as a result of her criticism.

Penalties the committee can impose include censuring Ms MacLennan, ordering an apology, fining her up to $15,000 and ordering her to pay the costs of the committee's investigation.

She told Corin Dann on TVNZ’s Q+A programme yesterday that New Zealand judges need a lot more training in domestic violence law, and that she was unapologetic about speaking up.

"I've been saying for a long time that I think judges need a lot more training in domestic violence (law)," Ms MacLennan said.

"This Court of Appeal decision last year certainly confirmed what I and other domestic violence advocates have been saying, the domestic violence act is excellent law, it is not being interpreted and applied properly by judges."

Last Thursday the Auckland Women Lawyer's Association president Kathryn Beck, penned an open letter sharing concerns about the investigation into Ms MacLennon.

Ms MacLennan said she believes the law profession is archaic in its attitudes partly because male lawyers are not speaking up.

"We need is for male lawyers to speak out, there's been pretty much a deafening silence from them," she said.

"Sexual assault and sexual harassment are not women's issues, it's men that are the perpetrators so we need male lawyers to step up and engage with this and they need to make it culturally unacceptable to behave like that."

The sentencing came after the man had earlier had let off without conviction, prompting an Auckland lawyer to criticise the presiding judge. Source: 1 NEWS


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