New District Court Judge appointments

Friday 2 November 2012, 10:34PM
By Christopher Finlayson

Napier solicitor Russell Collins has been appointed as a District Court Judge with a jury warrant to sit in Auckland, and Auckland lawyer Jonathan Down has been appointed as an Acting District Court Judge with general and jury warrants, to sit in Hastings, Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson announced today.

Judge Collins was admitted to the Bar in 1988 after graduating from Victoria University with Arts and Law degrees. He initially worked for eight years in management positions in the thoroughbred racing industry in both Australia and New Zealand. Since admission, he has practised almost exclusively in litigation.

A partner in the Napier firm Elvidge and Partners, he was appointed Crown Solicitor at Napier in 2002 and Gisborne in 2006. While his practice has involved work in the Civil and Family Courts, criminal cases have dominated in recent years. Jury trials, in both the District and High Court, initially as defence counsel and then as a prosecutor, have been a constant part of his workload.

During secondment to the Crown Law Office in 2011, he appeared regularly for the Crown in the Court of Appeal.

Judge Collins will be sworn in on 10 December 2012 in Napier. 

Judge Down is an experienced criminal barrister with a background in United Kingdom and New Zealand criminal law.  He was admitted in England/Wales in 1993 and in New Zealand in 2005, following a move here with his family.  He briefly practised as a barrister from Vulcan Chambers (August to December 2008) and was an associate and Senior Crown Prosecutor at Meredith Connell from 2005-2008, responsible for complex and high profile criminal matters. Since late 2008 Mr Down has been the Public Defender in the Northern region.  He was the Convenor of the Auckland District Law Society’s Criminal Law Committee from 2007-08 and commenced a Master of Laws in Public Law this year. Judge Down’s UK background includes practising as a barrister, a Police Officer and a missionary.  

Judge Down will be sworn in on 14 December 2012 in Auckland.