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James Hugh Cassidy Larsen, 1935 - 1989

by Colin Clere

Jim Larsen served as Crown Prosecutor for the Wellington District from 1969 until his death from cancer on 31 March 1989, at the age of 53.

He was born in Levin on 25 April 1935, and educated at Horowhenua College and Victoria University of Wellington.

Jim excelled at debating and graduated with a double degree of Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Law. He kept up his interest in debating as a member of the Wellington 22 Club.

Soon after he was admitted to the Bar, Jim became a partner in the legal firm of Luke, Cunnigham and Clere and was an assistant Crown Prosecutor until WR Birks was apopinted as a Magistrate in 1969.

He represented the Crown with great skill and integrity in the majority of murder trials held in Wellington over the last 20 years.

Jim Larsen appeared regularly before the Court of Appeal, and it came to be known that he could be thoroughly relied upon to state the facts and the law with the utmost clarity and accuracy.

In addition to prosecuting in many criminal trials, he built up a busy practice in industrial law and appeared in a wide variety of matters before various tribunals.

Essentially a private man, Jim Larsen was nevertheless generous with his time and talents, lecturing at the Law Faculty in his earlier days, and latterly at the Police College.

He took a keen interest in the adoption of DNA testing and other scientific methods of crime detection and assisted in the establishment of the Forensic Society and the Society for the Reform of Criminal Law. He was also a member of the High Court committee and the District Court committee of the Wellington District Law Society.

Jim’s father was Norwegian-born and Jim maintained his links with his father’s family in Norway, regularly visiting them over the years. He felt a very close kinship with their ways, tradition, humour and competitive spirit.

Jim was a keen skier and for some years was president of the Aorangi Ski Club, helping with the development of the club’s facilities on the eastern side of Mt Ruapehu. He is said to have been at his happiest and most relaxed when skiing. He was also a keen participant in tennis, swimming and running.

Jim Larsen put up a courageous fight against cancer over the last 15 months of his life, a battle which sapped his physical strength but not his spirit.

He is survived by his wife Jan, and his children David, Tass, Peter and Stephen.

This obituary was first published in LawTalk 304, 11 May 1989, page 6.

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Last updated on the 11th May 2012