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MEN'S GROUPS `THRILLED' AT RESPONSE TO PICKET AT LAWYERS' HOMES
[April 10, 2006]

MEN'S GROUPS `THRILLED' AT RESPONSE TO PICKET AT LAWYERS' HOMES


(New Zealand Press Association Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)Wellington, April 11 NZPA - Men's groups picketing family lawyers' homes in Auckland are ``absolutely thrilled'' at the response, and pleased the tactics have been seen as intimidating.



Three protests over recent weeks have targeted family lawyers' homes with loudhailers and placards, causing the Law Society to express concern at the ``insulting and abusive attacks''.

Jim Bailey, of the Hands On Equal Parent Trust, said his organisation had been a part of the protest.


``It's a range of men's groups, a coalition of fathers. It's not a registered group and never will be. It's a whole lot of us that work in different ways together.''

The Law Society's family law section chairman, Simon Maude, said today that the protests, which involved between 20 and 30 people, had intimidated the lawyers, their families and neighbours.

Mr Bailey said he was pleased the protests were intimidating.

``I think it's good -- that's the whole idea. They've destroyed so many families, and intimidated us,'' he told NZPA.

Mr Bailey said similar protests were planned every three weeks, with a fourth one scheduled towards the end of the month.

``Things are about to expand very quickly -- certainly into Wellington, Hamilton, Christchurch and even conservative little Dunedin. I'm absolutely thrilled at the response.''

Mr Maude said although the protest might appear to be ``harmless fun'', the reality for the lawyers on the receiving end was different.

``They've been subjected to insulting and abusive attacks, much of which has been amplified through a loudspeaker system,'' Mr Maude said.

The protests had shaken the lawyers involved, he told NZPA, and had been intimidating for their families and neighbours.

``Their children have, in some cases, been frightened and quite disturbed by the experience.''

Mr Maude said the family law section did not challenge the group's right to demonstrate to seek changes in family law, but believed they had ``misdirected their energies'' with personal attacks on lawyers and their families.

He said the protesters seemed to have misunderstood the role of lawyers in the Family Court, particularly the role of lawyers appointed to represent children.

``They may have assumed that lawyers for the children have much greater power and influence than is in fact the case.

``Children's lawyers don't make the decisions about the children, the court does.''

Taking action against family lawyers at their homes wouldn't change the system, Mr Maude said.

``It will cause distress to their children and the children of the neighbourhood who, not surprisingly, find demonstrations outside their homes intimidating and frightening.''

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