• NZ Booklovers

To Be Fair by Rosemary Riddell


If you’ve ever wondered what exactly a judge does or what a normal day in our courts looks like, then this is the book for you! Subtitled, Confessions of a District Court Judge, To Be Fair is a fascinating commentary on our justice system.

Rosemary Riddell has seen first hand how a single event can irretrievably change a life. The retired judge shares her stories of life on the bench, complete with humour and frustrations. She provides an honest and unique glimpse into life as a judge.

After switching to law at the age of 40, Rosemary was later invited to apply to be a judge.


Rosemary relinquished her Acting Warrant prior to the book’s publication which enabled her to speak candidly about her experience. “This book represents many of the things I wanted to say at times, while on the bench. As you will see from some of the more ribald comments, it would never do for a judge to voice them. However, a retired judge can say what she likes, and there were, in my view, some things that needed to be said.”

She suspects some of her colleagues may grumble that she has given away too much, that judging is such a high profession and it is considered impolite to divulge information.


“They may be right. On the other hand, I relate what actually happens. Any judge could add their own book of the humour and pathos that make up a judge’s day. It really is that funny and that sad,” she says of the many people and their stories she has encountered.

One day, Rosemary began writing and couldn’t stop. She effortlessly combines her observations and experiences with lighter moments that will leave you laughing out loud. Ultimately, she offers a thought provoking look into an important part of our legal system.

“I wanted to tell the stories of those in both Family Court and the criminal jurisdiction where I worked. I wanted to draw attention to their struggles and triumphs. I also wanted people to see that judges are not high and mighty or unreachable. We are just ordinary people doing a rather demanding and difficult job, and it is a job that keeps our feet on the ground,” she says.

Reviewer: Andrea Molloy Upstart Press, RRP $39.99