Prominent Christchurch lawyer Jonathan Eaton QC appointed High Court judge


Jonathan Eaton QC will soon become a High Court judge sitting in Christchurch.

Kevin Stent/Stuff

Jonathan Eaton QC will soon become a High Court judge sitting in Christchurch.

Prominent Christchurch lawyer Jonathan Eaton QC​ is set to take a seat as a High Court judge.

Attorney‑General David Parker​ announced the high profile appointment in a media release on Thursday.

He said Eaton had been appointed as a judge of the High Court, sitting in Christchurch, while Auckland barrister and solicitor Clive Taylor​ was appointed an associate judge of the High Court.

Eaton has featured in countless high-profile court cases throughout the years, including the defence of Mark Lundy, who was twice found guilty of the murder of his wife and daughter.

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Eaton has also come across his fair share of drama.

While dressed in his “unlucky” pinstripe suit, he captured headlines in 2005 after tackling Daniel Andrew McNally​.

McNally had punched his client, former Christian Heritage political party leader Graham Capill​, and knocked him to the ground. Capill was later jailed for child molestation.

More recently, Eaton defended killer doctor Venod Skantha​ who was sentenced to life in prison after fatally stabbing 16-year-old Amber-Rose Rush at her Dunedin home on February 3, 2018.

Eaton tackles Daniel Andrew McNally after the latter punched his client, former Christian Heritage political party leader Graham Capill, outside Christchurch District Court in 2005.

SUPPLIED

Eaton tackles Daniel Andrew McNally after the latter punched his client, former Christian Heritage political party leader Graham Capill, outside Christchurch District Court in 2005.

Last year, he defended Australian Mark Edward Hayden, who was jailed after a boozy heli-skiing holiday in New Zealand that ended in the death of his cousin Stephen Hayden​ and Twizel man Nigel Stuart Freeman​.

As a pupil at Christchurch Boys’ High School, Eaton never planned to become a lawyer, he told Stuff in 2013.

“Like a lot of teenage boys, my parents said ‘you’re an argumentative little s… – you should go to law school’.”

Eaton, pictured in 2013, taking time out from work to paddle board on Lyttleton Harbour.

John Kirk-Anderson/Stuff

Eaton, pictured in 2013, taking time out from work to paddle board on Lyttleton Harbour.

It was not until he arrived at the University of Canterbury that he developed an affinity with the law and realised it came easily.

Eaton graduated with a bachelor of law from the University of Canterbury in 1986, and started out as a junior solicitor with Cunningham Taylor in Christchurch.

Between 1988 and 1991, he practised civil litigation in London before returning to New Zealand and joining Christchurch law firm Wood Marshall in 1991. In 1994, Eaton joined Raymond Donnelly – the Christchurch Crown Solicitor’s office.

Eaton has featured in countless high-profile court cases throughout the years.

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Stuff

Eaton has featured in countless high-profile court cases throughout the years.

He spent three years as a senior prosecutor, then joined the independent bar in 1998, where he specialised in criminal defence trial and appellate litigation.

He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2013 – a milestone he had strived for since he was admitted to the bar.

Eaton declined Stuff’s request for comment on the new appointment on Thursday.



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