THE CHRISTIE CORRESPONDENCE.
[From Odb Parliamentary Reporter.] WELLINGTON, July 22. The following is a complete summary of the Christie correspondence, which was laid on the tabic this evening. As most of your readers are aware, there has recently been a petition under consideration of the Public Petitions Committee A to L, in which the conduct of Judge Ward is impugned. Early in April last several residents of Oimaru petitioned His Excellency the Governor praying for remission of sentence in the case of William Christie, of Oamaru, auctioneer, a bankrupt, who had been convicted by Judge Ward, under the Bankruptcy Act, of intention to defraud, and was sentenced to four months' imprisonment. The petitioners alleged that neither Christie nor his counsel had notice specifying the exact nature of the charges to be made against him, and they were, therefore, taken by surprise at the evidence given. Christie was subsequently released on the ground of a mistake in the warrant of commitment, and when Parliament met Christie petitioned for the removal of Judge Ward from the Oamaru and Timaru circuit for several reasons, which I set out at the time of its presentation, one ground being that when His Honor heard the case he was under monetary obligations to the prosecuting company (The Colonial Investment and Agency Company). This is the petition that has just been dealt with. The former petition—that for Christie's release—was forwarded to the Hon. T. W. Hislop for transmission to the Minister for Justice. It alleges that a mistake had been made as to the wheat in respect to which the promissory note was given, inasmuch as the company had no claim upon the wheat. If that were so, of course the offence would at once fall to the ground. Accompanying the petition was a letter to Mr Hislop by Mr Newton (Christie's counsel), in which the writer stated he honestly thought that, in making the payment to Mackerras and Hazlett in respect to which Mr Christie was convicted, he had no intention to defraud. Reasons for coming to this conclusion were 1 set forth, and Mr Newton added that, though Christie may have been wrong if he acted under an honest sense of right, he had no intent to defraud. With regard to the law of the case, the learned counsel thought it more than doubtful whether the delivery of the promissory note to Mackerras and Hazlett was an offence under the Act. To be suih there must have been a delivery of the bankrupt's property with intent to defraud. If there was any offence there was a breach of trust in improperly dealing with property held by him upon trust for another. That, however, was no offence under the Bankruptcy Act, A copy of the petition was forwarded to District Judge Ward for his comments, this course being approved of by the Premier in th» absence of the Minister for Justice. The Colonial Secretary asked His Honor particularly to report the evidence upon which he came to the conclusion that the intent which the bankrupt had in making the payment was to defraud the Colonial Investment and Agency Company ; also his views as to what class of cases were meant to be covered by the subsection under which the conviction was made, and the reasons which operated with him in refusing facilities for an appeal. Mr Hislop added :" I think it right also to state that it has been reported to me that you were twelve months ago, if not now, indebted to the prosecuting company in a large sum of money, and that the company favored you by often allowing the interest to be far in arrear. Perhaps you would state to the Minister for Justice whether there is any truth iu the assertion, and,"if any, to what extent it is true. I regret to have to introduce such a matter, but I think you will agree that it is better that such a statement should be met at the earliest possible moment. Judge Ward, in reply, in the course of a lengthy report on the case, asserts that Christie while in insolvent circumstances was acting in a grossly dishonest manner in the way of appropriating the proceeds of a sale to his own business in lieu of paying them over to the Colonial Investment Company. After reviewing the evidence given before the Court, His Honor says that he held a certain transaction to be a delivery by Christie of part of his estate, while he was in utterly insolvent circumstances with intent to defraud the Colonial Investment Company, to whom the proceeds of Aikenhead's and Irvine's wheat were due. [As a matter of fact the published reports of the Judge's decision show that His Honor stated that the wheat forming the basis of the transaction had come from the Hakateramea. In his present statement he states as above. I understand that the view of the defence is that this is a material difference, and in fact really vitiates the decision.] Of course it was also a fraud (Mr Ward continues) on Aikenhead, whose wheat was thus absorbed by Christie in payment of his own debts in lieu of paying his (Aikenhead's) to the company. At this date the amount due on bills by Christie to the company was L 32.138, and the ultimate balance against him, after realisation of securities, L 15.915. When he filed in December, 1888, his total assets only amounted to L 431, L2450f which was represented by furniture. Christie might also have been convicted on the ground of having embezzled the proceeds of Simkinson's sheep. After sentence of four months' imprisonment with hard labor had been pronounced against the bankrupt, Mr Newton, who appeared as his counsel (instructed by Hislop and Creagh), requested that he might be released on bail pending an appeal. He (His Honor) said that it appeared to him doubtful whether an appeal lay in criminal cases, and that the framers of the rules under the Bankruptcy Act and the Judges who approved those rults (Sir J. Prendergaat and Mr Justice Richmond) apparently considered that no such appeal lay, inasmuch as the rules touching appeals clearly applied to civil cases only. He also said that in his op'nion the Act gave him no power to release a bankrupt on bail after conviction. Judge -Ward added that he purposely refrained from comment on the letter of the Colonial Secretary. It was shown by the evidence that Christie hid long been a client of Hislop and Creagh ; his defence was entrusted to them ; and on April 11, when, as Mr Hislop states, he, being at Oamaru, arranged with the Premier that he should act as Minister for Justice in the case of his own client, his firm were taking legal proceedings for the extrication of their client from gaol by writ of habeas corpus. The Minister for Justice at once replied to the observations made in the last paragraph of District Judge Ward's letter pointing cut that Mr Hislop in this matter had acted in no other capacity than that of a Minister of the Crown. The petition for Christie's release was handed to Mr Hislop as the Minister then present in Oamaru, and he, with the concurrence of his colleagues, and to save time, forwarded a copy of it direct to Mr Ward for report instead of sending it to Wellington to be again forwarded to him by the Minister in temporary charge of the department. The case, so far as it had gone, disclosed nothing more as regarded the relations existing between Mr Hislop and Christie than was already known to the Government. Mr Fergus promised to again address Mr Ward upon the subject after he had had time to further consider the report.
The next Btep in the correspondence is a letter received by the Hon. Mr Fergus in an envelope marked *' private," and commencing "My dear sir." Mr Ward, writing from Christchurch, on April 29, says : Kindly cause tho enclosed addenda to to affixed to my icpart in Christie's case. If you wish to inquire into hij antecedents you will find him very well known in Wellington. He was manager of the Colonial Bank there and executor of the will of Mr Crawford, of Wellington, merchant. Sir B. Stout conducted the proceedings against him on behalf of Mrs Crawford. I did not take any notice of Mr Hislop's question touchiug my debt to the Colonial Investment Company because I do not in t'io least recugniHe his ifibtal light to ask it, whether ho be acting as Minister for Justice, on behalf of his own client, or as Colonial Secretary. But I have not the slightest objection to the whole colony knowing exactly what my Bole connection with the comp >ny in question really is. Some tight or nine years ago I mortgaged to them for LBSO certain land at Hokonui, which had cost me LI, 800; halfyearly interest (131 17a Gd), payable Ist July and Ist January. No doubt this interest has often been in arrear, especially a> a tenant of mine ought to have paid it during part of the time. But it has certainly never been in arrear for six month?, and as tho company had ample security they never troubled me about it, nor had I ever to ask any favors in respect to it. And certainly at the last two half years L3l 17s 6d was paid in July and January respectively. With respect to Mr Hislop's knowledge of this mortgage, I may mention thu it appeared in evidence that tho ex manager of the company, Kitchle, was staying with Christie whiie tho bankruptcy case was proceeding. There was therefore full opportunity for inquiiies. This communication was not acknowledged till May 8, and the Minister for •Justice explains that he delayed replying to it because he felt some difficulty in deciding whether he should treat a document marked " private " as a public document or not. It seemed to him quite clear that in such a matter as that of a petition to His Excellency the Governor praying for a free pardon, and in respect to which he (the Minister) had to act in a quasi-judicial capacity, it would bo improper for him to receive from the convicting Judge any communications other than those of an official character, and it seemed to him still clearer that the Judge should not seek to prejudice him by a private communication dealing with matters outside the charge upon which the conviction was made. Had the petition claimed consideration upon the ground of good character it might have been right for the Judge to inform the Minister for Justice in his official report of any ciicumstances which showed that consideration on such grounds was not merited, leaving the Minister to make inquiries through the proper channel. Mr Fergus continues:— In this case the petition confined itself to the charge upon which tbe bankrupt was convicted, but you have gone outside this, not in your official report, but in a letter which you ask mo to treat as private. I shall await any explanation which you may desire to make, and I need scarcely say that I shall bo glad if your explanation removes the feeling of uneasiness whioh your communication has raised in my mind. My present opinion is that lam bound to treat your letter ae a public one, but before taking any further 3teps I will await your reply. There is yet another point in this correspondence to which I think I should direct your attention. You have thought it right, in view of our relative official position l , and of the position in which I stand to yards my colleagues, to comment upon the Dart taken by Mr Hislop in this matter. I d;em it my duty to nay that all that Mr Hislop has done has been approved of by other Ministers; but even had it been otherwise I cannot admit that your remarks wero called for. Statements were made to Mr Hislop for the purpose of being cemmtn'cated to the Government, and in making you acquainted with those statements, and in giving you an opportunity of confirming, explaining, or rebutting them, I think Mr Hislop acted within lis tights.
Writing from Christchurch on May 14, Mr Ward points out that Messrs Hislop and Creagh were solicitors to Christie for a considerable time before his bankruptcy; Mr Creagh apj ears 1 in the proceedings in bankruptcy ; at the hearing of the criminal charges against him Mr Newton appeared as ssnior counsel, instructed by Messrs Hislop and Creagh ; during a considerable part oi the proceedings Mr Hislop sat in Court on the bench behind him ; and on Christie's conviction Messrs Hislop and Creagh took proceedings to extricate him from gaol by hibeas corpus. Mr Hislop also arranged with the Government that he was to act as Minister of Justice pro tempore, and received the petition. In lieu of forwarding it with the customary request for a report, he forwarded a copy of the petition with a letter on which he (Mr Ward) had hitherto forborne to comment. In view of these facts be had merely the honor to return his thanks for the information that ha was "mistaken in supposing that Mr Hislop acted in any other way than as a Minister of the Crown." As to the charge of endeavoring to bias tho Minister for Justice's decision in thin case by a private communication respecting Christie, dealing with matters outside the chargo against him, Judge Ward remarks that this letter was written some day? after Christie had been released from gaol. After Christie's release he certainly deemed that the matter waa ended so far as Christie was concerned, though probably not as respected Mr Hislop and himself. His former report had stated : Inasmuch as according to Mr Hislop Christie had a right of appeal to the Supreme Court, the exercise of which was not prevented by the writ of habeas corpus, and had not chosen to use that right; as the Act in respect to which he was convicted, and in his (Mr Ward's) opinion the intent with which that act was done, were clearly proven and Bhown by the evidence ; as according to Christie's own confession ht had been trading with utter recklessness and gross dishonesty during the four years preceding his bankruptcy, and had six months before filing deliberately embezzled the property of ono of his clients, to whom he gave a release which ho know to ba fraudulent and void; and as he had during the above term succeeded in incurring debts to the amount of nearly L 23.000, after deducting the value of all securities, while he only produced L 435 of assets for division among his creditors, Mr Justice Ward says that it never occurred to him that the Minister for Justice, in a " quisi - judicial capacity," might deem Christie a deserving recipient for a free pardon. He considers that as the question of Christie's character, and of the nature of his former dealings, is distinctly raised by the petition itself, the charge against him of improperly introducing that matter was entirely unfounded. Mr Ward goes on to say:—
AByoußtate in your last despatch that all that Mr Hislop has done has been approved of by the Government, I shall briefly advert to his letter to me of 11th Aptil. The first question in it refers to the intent of Christio to defraud the company, which I have already points d out in my report was perfectly clear. Mr Hislop next requests me to roport my views as to what " class of cases are meant to be coversd by the subsection undir which the conv'efcion was made" (substctbn 7 of seotion 171 of the Bankruptcy Act, 1883). It is not utual to demmd from a Judge in his report on a criminal case bis opinion on abstract questions of law. Moreover, in this case the demand assumes a most singular aspect. The rule nisi for the writ of habeas corpus was moved for on the ground, inter alia, that the alleged deliveiy of a promissory cote does not describe an offence under section 171 above cited. Thus Messrs Hislop and Creagh, by their Uunedin agents, served me with a rule nisi, which I bad a right to oppose, in effect inviting me to show cause why the order of my Court should not be held invalid on the above ground; while Mr Hislop, bb Minister of Justice, demanded a report of my views on the same point "by first available mail," ie, before the rule could possibly be argued in the Supreme Court. Thirdly, Mr Hislop desired me to state " the re-vsonß which operated with me in refusing facilities to appeal." To this I have clearly adverted in my report, but I may now remark that the Judge of a Bankruptcy Court has no power to grant or refuse facilities for such appeal. These facilities must be given by the rules, and for them the Ministry of 1884, who framed the Order-in-oounoil embodyirg them, are responsible. Of that Ministry Sir Harry Atkinson was Premier. The last two ques'ions in Mr Hislop's letti r touching wheat and bags have already been answered in my report. I have now only to advert to the story which ho mentions respecting the relations between myself and the Colonial Investment Company. Had every detail of that story been strictly correct, it would not have had the faintest influence on the decision to which I came; nor do I believe it would bare had the slightest effect on any
other judicial officer in the colony, if placed in the aame position. It is a matter of complete indifference to me whether a true acoount of my only transaction with tho company be made pu'dic or not. But I cannot for a raotnent admit that the Minister for Justice has a light to demand from any Judge an account cf ttio private relations existing between him and any suitor or creditor appearing in hia Court. And if either you or Mr Hislop have any charge to bring against me in respect to this case, you will find me ready to meet it.
On May 2G the Hon. T. Fergus replied to this last letter, stating that he did not propose to discuss further with Judge V\ ard the action taken by the Hon. Mr Hislop in this matter of Christie's, nor to yield to his apparent desire to make it a personal matter. As regarded his private letter, the Minister said:— It seems to me in the highest degree improper for a Judge to seek, by means of a private letter, to influence tho mind of a Minister against _ a person applying for a pardon or a remission in respect to an offence of which he has been convicted by the Judge. Yon state that you cannot for a "moment admit that the Minister for Justice has a right to demand from any Judge an account of th 3 private relations existing between him and any suitor or creditor appearing in his Court." I dissent entirely from this position. If a Judge does not perceive the obvious impropriety of abjudicating between persons, to one or either of whom be is under pecuniary obligations, it becomes tho duty of tho Minister for Justice, in the intarests of the public, to intervene. It is with great regret that I have to inform an officer of your lengthened experience that your views on this subject meet with tho gravest disappioval of tho Government. With regard to the lust paragraph of your letter I r.ead scarcely say that I have made no charge against you. Should such a courso become necessary, yeu may assured that I shall not shrink from tho responsibility of making the charge in unequivocal term?, nor of taking such measures as may be deemed adequate to tho occasion.
The last communication on the subject received from District Judge Ward is dated Christchurch, June 18, is addressed to the Minister for justice, and is to tho following effect:
I have the honor to acknowledge tho receipt of your letter of May 25. You are entirely in error if you believe tbat I have the least intention of making " this matter of Christie's a personal matter." As an illmI tration of the manner in which you and Mr Hislop attempt to 'leal with the Judicial Bench when a client of the Colonial Secretary is concerned, I deem this correspondence of the gravest public importance. I regret that you reiterate tho refuted charge of my having attempted to bias you against Christie by a private letter. In my last despatch I pointed out that the indication of legal proceedings contained in the letter to which you allude—written several days after Christie's release from gaol—waß simply required by the statements in the petition. If nothing more was stated in my private letter than ought to have appeared in my ieport, the accusat.on of attempting to bias is simpiy absurd. After the use you have made of my private letter, however, I lave to request that it be considered a rmblic one. Notwithstanding "the gravest disapproval of yourself anl air H'tlop. I adhere to my denial of "the ri?ht of the Min'ster for Justice to demand from any Judge an account of the private relations existing between him and any suitor or creditor appearing in his Court." But of course I do not wonder that you and Mr Hislop contend for the exorcise of private inquisition, As to your theory of the duny of intervention by tho Minister fcrJustice.it is clear thatyou completely misunderntand your position. You have no authority whatever to interfere with th« course of law in civil cases. As to criminal cases, if, whenever a client of a Cabinet Mioister is sentence 1 to imprisonment, such Cabin' t Minister is to be permitted for with totran'f .rra himself into Minister of Justice, and to intervene after Mr Hislop's fi'B'.ion with the Judge who convicted his client, such a course will simply be destruction of the independence of the Bench, and will be an entirely new development in constitutional government. 1 observe that, after reiterating tho refuted chaige above roferred to, you state at the close of your letter that y u have not mado any charge whatever against mo, which is so far satisfactory. You then courteously assuro me thut you will " not thrink from making a charge in unequivocal ternn" on the fi at oppjrtunlty, on the truth of whioh assutanso I feel the utmost reliance.
The final chapter in the correspondence is a letter from the Under-Secretary of Justice, and is addressed to Judge Ward. It is dated July 15, and Mr Haselden says that,_ in replying on behalf of the Minister for Justice, he has to inform His Honor that the tone of his communication was such that it seemed to the Minister proper that he should defer taking any further action on the subject of it until he had had an opportunity of submitting the whole correspondence to the Cabinet. Pressure of parliamentary business bad, however, rendered it impossible for Ministers vntil that day to give the matter full consideration. A petition had been present d to Parliament by Mr Christie, and the Government were of opinion that the decision of tho Cabinet should be deferred until the Public Petitions Committee had reported on the charges made in the petition. A MINISTERIAL MEMO. On May 28 the Colonial Secretary forwards a long memo, to his colleague asking that it bo attached to the papers in Christie's case, as, after reading Mr VVard'a letter, he felt that it would not be right that the statements therein made should go unchallenged by him. lie then deals at length with Mr Ward's statements, admitting that Mr Christie was a client of his firm, but says it was not true that for a considerable part of the bankruptcy proceedings he sat upon the Bench behind Messrs Newton and Creagh, and the implication that ho was there in consultation with them was unfounded. Ho was during the four days of the trial only three times in Court—twice to see his partner, and on the third occasion whilo waiting for some information which was being prepared in the Resident Magistrate's Court —and in all not more than an hour. The most important part of this memo. I give in extemo as its importance clearly warrants this step :
It is not true that I acted as Minister for Justice. I on'y acted as any other Minister might have done in forwarding tho petition. Had I acted as Minister for Justice, I should hwe required him to report to mo, and not to you direct. It is quite absurd to suggest that the merely format operation of sending the petition was inconsistent with my position, and especially so when the cour. e about to bo pursued by me had been approved by the Premier, who was acting for you. Nothing can be clearer than the statement I made in my letter as to the capacity in which I wrote. I fully explained that what I was doing had been appro-ed by tho Premier, and Mr Ward's c-mstant reiteration of the untruth in tho face of my statement and your letters is suggestive rather of thepartisan's than of the judicial mind. Mr Ward makes a point of my forwarding a copy of the petition instead of the original. If this was irregular, I can only urge the sufficient excuse that if the allegations in the petition were correct tho Judge had been misinformed at the trial and had therefore actod under a misapprehension. I took a little trouble tofind out the true state of affairs, and I ascertained what has now been admitted by the Judge thit his strvtemtnt of facts when sentencing Mr Christie was not correct, and, therefore, in my opinion as well as that of otherp, the defendant was ur, j Jttly sutfi ring. I own that I was anxious that the matter ahculd rcceiva immediate consideration, and tb*t if the petition should pove correct there should be no unnecessary loss of time in relieving him, I should in any other similar case bo actuated by tho same feeling; besides, this course hj id, after the Premier consulted the officers of the department, been approved of by him. There was the probability of the Judge leaving Christchurch before the petition could return from \\ ellingtou, and therefore the chance of a prolonged delay before his report could come to hand.
As to tho matters upon which I asked the Judge to report, I kuow of no rule- which ought to have provented me from asking him for his opinion upon any of them. The Judge had had tho matter argued before him, and I only asked him to give you the benefit of his view.", so as to help you to a decision. If Mr Ward's view that there was no appeal was the correct one, then it was essential that the law should be discussed in the light of the several matters referred to in my letter. The suggestion that I wished the information for my own purposes is ludicrous Mr Ward's reference to the ground upon which it was sought to procure a writ of habeas corpus is absurd, and is only the outcome of suspicion unfounded on fact. Tho particular ground to which he refers, and in respect to which ho suggests that I improperly desired the advantage of his opinion, was not at the time or for some time afterwards known to me. It was>, like mo3t of the grounds upon which the rule was moved for, inserted by Mr Chapman upon his own responsibility. Mr Ward makes tho statement that he thought at the time he wrote his private letter that the matter as regarded Mr Christie was at an end. In view of his entertaining this belief it is still more difficult to find an excuse for his haviDg written the letter and tho addendum to
the repoit. When the official excuse fails, surely he had no right to convert himself i-ito a private trailucev of Mr Christie. I pa3B over the references made to Mr Christie with this remark: that it is a pity tint Mr Ward cannot in a calm way, and by icfcrence to tho evidence and the law, justify his sente/ice, instead of dealing in vituperation. I have perused the evidence as reponed, and fail to see anything therein to justify his statement that Chridtie committed any deliberate embezzlement. On tho contrary, he asserted his right to receive tho money; and Mr Ward's statement of tho law, that as between the company and Mr Christie's client the company were not bound, is not in my opinion correct. It is elementary law that a man or company is bound by the action of an agent, and nothing was more clearly shown than that Mr Christie was the agent of the company, and that he was authorised to deal with the securities in ylobo, and to receive payment of moneys although they might bo represented by bills. Mr Ward's statement of the law is not, in my opinion, indicative of careful consideration of the case. A pennal of the newspaper reports will furnish you with sufficient facts upon which an opinion on the above matters can be obtained.
Mr Ward's opinion that a man's application for consideration is to be viewed to his detriment in the light of transactions outside that of tho one upon which he is found guilty, cannot bo justified by reference to tho prirclples which regulate the conduct of English judges in all criminal cases. To show that Judge Ward, when under softer and more humane Influences than seemed to move him when dealing with Mr Christie, recognises these principles, I might mention the case of Bruhn, upon whom a concurrent sentenco (five year.i' f(»r arson and two years' for larceny) was passed by him. Tho circumstances of this case and the nature of the application aro known to you. I might also rtm.vrk that the correspondence which somo little timo ago passed between Mr Ward and Ministers shows that he can recognise the inconvenience and impropriety of such a rule as he wishes to apply to Mr Christie's case. Mr Ward lays down a rule as to tho mode of ariiving at the defendant's motive which is not warranted by authority. Any novice in law knows th*t the motive must bo gathered from a view of the particular action and its immediate surroundings, It is little less than scandalous for any judge to suggest that in such a case as Mr OhrUtie's ho is justified in considering or asking the Minister to consider previous conduct of the defendant, oapeoially when such conduct, even if truthfully attributed to him, was not such as to make him amenable to tho criminal law. Judge Ward adhered to truer principles in Bruhn's case.
Judge Ward attempts to justify what he says by referring you to the statement with regard to Mr Christie and his dealings in the third paragraph of the petition, which, he argue?, claims consideration on account of character ; but the disingenuousness of this attempt hj shown by the fact that it was only after receipt of your letter that he refers to this part of the petition. It is also clear to anyone, when the 3rd clause is lead in connection with the other clausi e, that tha statement U confined to Mr Christie's dealings with the company, or, at most, to his transactions at Oamniu, and not those of years before in another place and iu a different capacity. Aftor a lapse of over a month Mr Ward has replied to the questions contained in my letter of 11th April. His statements thereon seem to mo to show absence of consideration and a contempt of the argument which were submitted to him in Court, and which, judging from tho reports published, seemed to me conclusive, and whioh, I know, ate considered by other lawyers as conclusive that cases of mere fraudulent preference do not come within the subjection, and tbat Mr Christie, even if you tnke the facts as fgund by the Judge, was guilty either of a fraudulent preference only or of an offence which was bojond the jurisdiction of tho Court. Yet Mr Ward dismisses the subject with a few flippant remarks. As to Mr Ward's statement that it is not u<ual to ask a Judge his opinion upon abstract points of law, I presume that what is done in each case is regulated by its necessitie?. Mr Christie's ease was a very unusual one, inasmuch as the usual right of appeal to the higher Court was barred, and the whole question to be dealt with by you was one of law, upon which it waa desirable to have full information. If I had wished unfairly to bias you in Mr Christie's favor I should have refrained from asking the Judje to report, and have contented myself with sending the opinion and arguments of those who inclined to the interpretation of the liw favorable to his innocence. It k difficult to understand what complaint there cin be against mo for taking Mr Ward to inform you of his views. I thi k hia replies, although unsatisfactoiy, show that it was tight I efore you and the law officers reviewed hn decision that you /hou'.d be informed by him of tho grounds for it. Mr Ward closes his letter by commenting upon my question as to his dealings with the prosecuting company. Thß conjecture which he made in his former report as to how I received my information is erroneous. It did not reach me till after tho trial. After heirlng the statement I thought it tirfht to make some inquiry before repeating it to the Premier and Mr Ward. This I did, and when I found that it had some foundation, I came to tho conclusion that it was right to inform yourself and tho Premier what I had heard, and that it would be unjust to Mr Ward not to give him the earliest opportunity of txplaining or denying th* statement. I may mention that during Mr Christie's incarceration I did not see him, and after his reloas-e I only spoke to him twice, and on those occasions but for a short time.
I am astonlshod, notwithstanding what Mr Wanl did while a Judge of the Supreme Court, that ho can argue that there waa.uo impropriety in sitting under the circumstances admitted by himself. It never cro-sod my mind that, assuming his relation to tho company to bo as represented, his sitting cou'.d be defended. I not'cß that Mr Ward states that tho company weio amply Bocurcd, and in support of f-uch statement mentions that the land cost him Ll,Boo. You will be able to judge of his cmdor and the value of his explanation when jou learn that the mortgago is some years overdue; that the principal can be called up by tho company at any time; th'«t although tho company have b«en anxious to call in their loans, including money secured on mortgage, the full amount is still owing, and that the land is now valued under tho Property Afrsessmfnt Act at LB3O, and that it has become the habit of those companies to regard such valuation as the maximum value of the land. Ank yourself tho question "Would the company, while the proceedings were pending, be likely to enforce their rights against Mr Ward?" The company may bo managed by purists who wou'd bo incapab'e of allowing unworthy considerations to affect them, and Mr Ward may be stoically indifferent to all evil* whioh might befall him, but will tho public generally, and the parties more closely interested, believe to be such ? Will the Bench under such circumstances remain, as it ought to bo, like Cieiar's wife—above suspicion? [N.B. writing the above, I notice (from information in my possession) that while these p-oceedings were pending a transfer from Mr \Wd to the New Zealand Agricultural Company of part of the land, in consideration of the company's transferring to the prosecuting company part of sections 120 and 535, was presented for registration. From this it will be seen that actually while proceedings were pending Mr Ward was either negotiating or cairying into effect an arrangement made at his request between the two companies,] The impropriety of a Judge sitting urdar tho circumstances above mentioned, as well as of his addressing a private letter of the kind of Mr Ward's, must of coursj be considered apart from Mr Christie's case; and the circumstances of Mr Christie's case must bo viewed apart from the f>ct of his having been my flrm'B oliout. It would of cnurso be absurd to suppose that the relationship between my firm and Mr Chriat'e should prevent the matter from being treated with the same rrg.ird to healthy rules which would characterise your action if such relationship did not exist. I have, because of my firm's connection, refrained, and I will continue to refrair, from personally taking part in any decision which has been or may be taken in Mr Christie's case. Now, however, that questions are raised as to the principles which ought to govern the conduct of judical officers, I do not think that any consideration ought to prevent me from expressing and endeavoring to give effect to my opinion, which is based upon principles recognised by me not during this discussion only, but, practically, from the time I studied such questions. Mr Ward has in Mr Christie's case only repeated what he has done in other cases. Just before I left for tho South I had occasion to look over the depositi"ns and other papers in Meikle's care, when I learned that Mr Ward had presided, although he was at the time indebted to the prosocutors, and had received indulgence from them. I mentioned this to you in a letter, and yon afterwards expre-Berl to me your disapproval of his conduct, In the ease of tho Queen v. M'Loan he sat, although he was under heavy monetary obligation to Mr M'Lean. How different is the principle by which he regulates lis own conduct from what he expected of the late Mr Justice Chapman, in respect to whom he wish', d to define the rule as to self-interest to such an extent as to urge as evidence of his being likely to be biassed tho fact that he happened to have been godfather to a child of one of the suitors, and that therefore he ought not to sit in tho case'l These ca*o» of Meikle's and M 'Lean's occurred when Mr Ward was a Judge of the Supreme Court, and it may therefore bo questionable whether you, in your capacity of a Minister, had any right to call him to account; but no such question can arise when ho is guilty of such improprieties as an officer under your con-
trol, for whose conduct you are responsible to the country. I will close this memo, by stating that whatever may be the needful action, no officer should be allowed
(1) To permit the administration of justice to came under suspicion by sitting iu a caso whf re he may be taken to be swayed by considerations personal to himself. (2) To address a Minister in a judicial matter by a private letter. (3) In such letter or by any other means to attempt to prejudice the mind of a Minister by referring to matters outside the charge. (It is obvious, if he does anything of this kind, his own mind must be swayed by the same consideration.) The toleration of conduct in variance with theso principles must strike at the root of judicial purity. T. W. HISLOP.
The correspondence closes with the following letter from Judge Ward, addressed to the Minister for Justice, and dated July 20:-
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a letter from the Secretary for Justice, stating inter alia that the Oabinet do not intend to take any aotion respecting the correspondence in re Christie until the Committee to whom his petition has been referred report upon it. It is pleasant to observe by telegrams that the mittcr has been brought before both Houses, and that the despatches in question rtuit be forthwith produced. The caso is now in the handß of the Legislative, to whom you and I are alike responsible. It remains for the Houses of Parliament to decide whether you and Mr Hislop are to be approved of as the apostles of the new doctrine of intervention, under which—aooording to you—no tradesman, to whom a judge or rosident magistrate owes a shilling, can sue or be sued in his Court without itcj becoming "the duty of the Minister for Justice in the public interest to intervoue," or whether I have simply dine my duty in repelling a grave attempt upon the independence of the judicial bench. As the law now stands, had I refused to hear Christie's examination in bankru tcy on the sole ground that a debt, fully secured by mortgage, was due by me to the Colonial Investment Company, one of liia creditors, a writ of mandamus orderiug me to procsed with it would certainly have been f ranted by the Supremo Court. I have recently bserved that a copy of the petition of certain residents in Oamaru in favor of Christie, and the letter of 11th April from Mr Hislop, forwarding it, are in the Bame handwriting. It is thui clear that this petition, if drafted by Mr Newton, was engrossed by a clerk of the Colonial Secreta-y s.—l am, etc., C. D. R. WaivD, District Judge.
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THE CHRISTIE CORRESPONDENCE., Evening Star, Issue 7966, 23 July 1889
THE CHRISTIE CORRESPONDENCE. Evening Star, Issue 7966, 23 July 1889
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