The Court Report

The Court Report, was a popular programme on the now defunct TVNZ7. The programme screened on Thursdays at 9.30pm, was repeated again on Fridays and Mondays (9.30am and 1.30pm) and Sundays 10.30pm. Back episodes can still be viewed on www.tvnz.co.nz keyword ‘The Court Report’.

Greg King was the Host and an Executive Producer of The Court Report, a weekly television programme which focussed on contemporary legal issues. The format of the show was panel discussion, hosted by King (and in 2012, Linda Clark) with leading experts, players and commentators. The goal was always to ‘go behind the headlines’ of the legal news stories of the day, to inform and educate, as well as entertain the profession and the public at large. The programme was unique in the world.

The Court Report had it’s own Facebook page and the following is a promotional clip.

50th Show

The 50th episode (which aired in late July 2011) was a one hour special filmed in Christchurch. The episode looked into the myriad of legal problems and issues arising out of the devastating earthquakes. The show was filmed at the Nga Hou e Wha Marae, which since the February Earthquake has served as the temporary ‘Number 1 District Court’.

Retired Supreme Court Justice Bill Wilson QC

Episode 44 featured retired Supreme Court Justice Bill Wilson, who was interviewed by Greg on the circumstances leading to his resignation. This was the first time that Mr Wilson QC had spoken publicly about what happened and given his side of the story. This major coup for The Court Report attracted extensive national publicity in print and electronic media. The episode was filmed before a ‘sell out’ audience which included some of the nation’s leading legal figures. The events that led to the resignation of Justice Wilson from the nation’s highest court is undoubtedly the biggest story in NZ judicial history. That Mr Wilson chose to speak exclusively to The Court Report is an indication of the status of the show.

Other Guests

Other guests who have appeared on the show have included; The Minister of Justice, Attorney-General and many other Members of Parliament, present and past, including former Prime Minister, Sir Geoffrey Palmer. A number of Judges have also featured (including international) as well as Law Commissioners, Law Professors and academics (from NZ and internationally), numerous Queen’s Counsel and too many lawyers to mention. In addition many non-lawyers have featured, including Garth McVicar and Gill Elliott (father of murdered Univeristy graduate Sophie Elliott – who’s killer, Dr Clayton Weatherston, King helped defend). The show has featured all manner of legal issues as well as profiles on some of the major players on the NZ legal landscape (including, Peter Williams QC, Simon Moore SC (Crown Solicitor at Auckland), Justice Joe Williams, Judge Caroline Henwood and Mai Chen (to name but a few).

The show was filmed before a live studio audience at Victoria University Law School on Tuesday evenings between 6.30-8.00pm. The public was welcome to attend and be a part of the studio audience. A ‘roving reporter’ enabled audience members to ask questions of the panel.

After hosting 68 episodes, Greg retired at the end of 2011 (so that he could take up an Eisenhower fellowship in early 2012), but continued on as an Executive Producer for the programme. After Greg’s departure the show was hosted by by popular journalist and recently admitted lawyer Linda Clark. Fittingly, the final episode of the show featured Greg as the last guest, discussing his experiences on his Eisenhower Fellowship. TVNZ7’s decline on 1 July 2012 also saw the end of The Court Report, after more than 80 episodes.

TVNZ Website

The following is taken from the TVNZ website about the Court Report:

“About the show

Greg has a huge passion for the law, but just as much frustration with coverage of legal and justice issues.

“Public debate is usually driven by emotion and uninformed comment, and is centred on blaming people rather than understanding the underlying principles of law,” he says. “Often people simply don’t know what the law says, and why, and that has a huge effect on the level of the debate.”

The Court Report will change all that. A new weekly series on TVNZ 7, The Court Report is a current affairs programme focused entirely on the laws that keep New Zealand running, the cases that should be making news and precedents that are being set.

As host, King brings his infamous style, intellect and wry humour to a topic that affects all Kiwis but isn’t often discussed comprehensively or intelligently.

“Generally, media coverage of court and the law in New Zealand usually reduces issues down to black and white, victim versus criminal, all compressed into short soundbites. The people who know what they’re talking about don’t ever speak out, they think it’s a waste of time,” says King.

The Court Report is a studio based commentary programme in which high profile lawyers, their adversaries, law makers and key players discuss the hottest justice issues and court cases from the week. In co-operation with the Law School at the Victoria University of Wellington, the show is to be filmed in front of a live audience in the Law School itself.

Kings says there are no shortage of issues in criminal, civil and public law. David Bain wants compensation. Iwi leaders want customary title to the foreshore and seabed. John Barlow wants parole. The Law Commission wants a major overhaul of privacy law. Susan Couch is suing the Crown.

King is a barrister who has weathered the storm of public indignation by defending many famous (and infamous) clients including murderers Clayton Weatherston, John Barlow and Bruce Howse. Now he brings the public an insider’s view.

With his own network of contacts and background knowledge, the audience will get to hear from those on the frontline of our justice system. The Court Report goes behind the scenes to explain how our laws work and why, demystifying the world of our legislation and making it relevant to New Zealanders’ lives.

Produced by Wellington production company The Gibson Group, executive producer Gary Scott says The Court Report is a natural fit for TVNZ 7. “It is a channel with a great reputation for intelligent discussion, it’s the perfect forum for a show that addresses a topic that impacts on all our lives and that New Zealanders feel so passionately about”, says Scott.

“And the Law School, in the beautiful Old Government buildings couldn’t be a more perfect venue. Not only is it one of our most important historic buildings where some of the country’s first laws were written, it sits between the Supreme Court, the Appeal Court and Parliament itself.”

“In other words” says Scott, “The Court Report is being recorded smack in the middle of legal power in this country.”

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