Special last sitting for judge

In the Invercargill District Court for Judge Bernadette Farnan’s final sitting yesterday are ...
In the Invercargill District Court for Judge Bernadette Farnan’s final sitting yesterday are (from left) Chief District Court Judge Heemi Taumaunu, Principal Family Court Judge Jackie Moran, Judge Farnan and Judge Russell Walker. PHOTO: FELICITY DEAR
After nine years the Executive Judge for Southland has had her final sitting after a "remarkable judicial career".

Judge Bernadette Farnan took her seat for the last time yesterday for a special sitting.

Chief District Court Judge Heemi Taumaunu started with a karakia and acknowledged the lawyers, court staff and judges both in the courtroom and by audiovisual link.

"This sitting represents an outpouring of love and affection for our dear colleague Judge Farnan", Judge Taumaunu said.

"We are all fortunate to have you as a colleague and a friend", he said.

Earlier in her life, Judge Farnan had been a probation officer before becoming a lawyer and teaching a professional legal studies course to new graduates.

In 2015, Judge Farnan was sworn in as a judge in Dunedin.

Judge Russell Walker joined the Invercargill team of judges in 2019 and spoke of Judge Farnan’s dedication to her career.

"Your workload was the stuff of legends and you were a powerhouse", he said.

"You have given so much to so many, both inside and outside of the courtroom."

Judge Walker poked fun at how many shoes the retiring judge would keep in her chambers, along with her mountainbike and a wardrobe.

He said she had a reputation for being "humble, kind and courageous".

"It’s been an honour to share with you ... the end of a remarkable judicial career", Judge Walker said.

Crown prosecutor Mary-Jane Thomas said Judge Farnan was a "fabulous" judge.

"I think you know ma’am, that we love you", she said.

Southland Law Society president Richard Smith said "an excellent person makes an excellent judge".

"You were approachable, you were funny, you were accommodating", he said.

Judge Farnan thanked those present and acknowledged the standard of Southland counsel.

"It’s been a privilege and an honour. . . to be a judge in Invercargill.

"This isn’t how I wanted to end my career ... but health dictates otherwise", Judge Farnan said.

PIJF court reporter