New Zealand Justice delivers two lectures on American judicial concepts during Duke Law residency

Oct 18, 2019Latest News

Justice Collins

Justice David Collins of the New Zealand Court of Appeal visited Duke Law as the Bolch Judicial Institute’s Distinguished Judge in Residence Sept. 30-Oct. 4, 2019. During his residency, he delivered two lectures: Why Nine: A Conversation on Court Packing with Justice David Collins and Judicial Review: A Conversation with Justice David Collins, both co-sponsored by the Program in Public Law.

The Justice’s lectures focused on court-packing and the American concept of judicial review — both ideas that are essentially absent in New Zealand’s English common law system. Neil Siegel, the David W. Ichel Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science and the co-director of the Program in Public Law at Duke Law, encouraged students attending Justice Collins’ lecture on judicial review to rethink legal constraints imposed by the American constitutional democracy (New Zealand does not have a written constitution) and to think about “resisting the normative power of the actual.”

“We can look at other well-functioning democratic societies that don’t do things exactly like we do, and that can give us fodder for own illuminations as we think about institutions that we have taken for granted but maybe we ought not to,” Professor Seigel said.

In both lectures, Justice Collins discussed the differing political landscapes of New Zealand and the United States. Despite partisan divisions, he said it is imperative for judges and politicians in the United States to uphold constitutional and practical norms in order to protect democratic institutions.

“What both sides of the political divide need to do is recognize that they are the temporary stewards of the powers that are bestowed upon them and discharge those powers with honor and with dignity by adhering to the conventions that are critical to the health of all democracies,” Justice Collins said to conclude his lecture on packing the Supreme Court.

Justice Collins was appointed to serve on the Court of Appeal of New Zealand in April 2019. He previously served on the High Court of New Zealand following his appointment in 2012. Before becoming a judge, Justice Collins served for six years as Solicitor-General of New Zealand and appeared as senior counsel on over 30 occasions in cases before the Privy Council and the Supreme Court of New Zealand. He was the president of the Wellington District Law Society and a vice president of the New Zealand Law Society and is an honorary member of the law faculty of Victoria University of Wellington. He is the author of a textbook on medical law as well as numerous articles, including a journal article, based on his thesis for the Duke Law Master of Judicial Studies program, published in Duke Law’s Law and Contemporary Problems.

Justice Collins holds LL.B. (1975), LL.M. (1976), and LL.D. (1993) degrees from the Victoria University of Wellington. He earned an LL.M. in judicial studies at Duke Law in 2018.

About the Distinguished Judge in Residence Program

The Bolch Judicial Institute invites outstanding jurists who have an interest in scholarship, teaching, and the study of the judiciary to serve as a Distinguished Judge in Residence. Recipients spend time in residence at Duke Law and may give guest lectures, participate in faculty scholarship workshops, and advise students and faculty. Senior Judge Jon O. Newman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit served as the 2018-19 judge in residence.