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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Otago & Southland Provincial Districts]


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The first appointment to the Supreme Court bench in Otago was that of Mr. Justice Stephen, in July, 1850. His position was practically a sinecure, as, the population being small and law-abiding, he had little or nothing to do; besides, he became mixed up with undignified personal quarrels, and in March, 1852, he left the settlement. Afterwards Mr. Justice Gresson, who was appointed to the Supreme Court at Christ-church in December, 1857, with jurisdiction over Otago and Southland, made periodical visits, until the gold discoveries rendered a change necessary. On the 21st of April, 1863, the Otago and Southland district was constituted under the Supreme Court Act, and assigned to the charge of Mr. Justice Richmond. Mr. H. S. Chapman was appointed, on the 23rd of March, 1864, a Judge of the Supreme Court, and as it was necessary on account of the great increase of business to assign another judge to the Otago district, he was given that position. In October, 1867, Mr. Justice Richmond was transferred to the Westland and Nelson district, and Mr. Chapman took a holiday in 1868. To fill the temporary vacancy District Judge Ward was raised to the Supreme Court bench during the pleasure of His Excellency the Governor, which, in this instance, meant during Mr. Chapman's absence. Mr. Chapman finally left the bench on the 31st of March, 1875, and Mr. Justice Williams, who was appointed to succeed him, still occupies the position.

Mr. Alfred Rowland Chetham Strode was the first Magistrate appointed to the settlement of Otago, and his successors, as Resident Magistrates, have been Messrs John Gillies, John Hyde Harris, Isaac Newton Watt, James Fulton, William Laurence Simpson, and Edgar Hall Carew; the last-named of whom still occupies the position.