Roadie and father of grunge band the Neo-Kalashnikovs, Jeremy Bioletti was not remotely interested in law at university but once he got into it he enjoyed the anti-authority aspect of criminal court work.
“I knew nothing about law,” says the sometimes controversial Auckland-based crime barrister and Urewera defender earlier bankrupted by the IRD over a hefty tax bill.
- Jeremy Newland (Jeremy) Bioletti
- Entry to law
- LLB from Auckland University and expects to graduate this year. Admitted in 1984.
- Barrister sole, Auckland.
- Speciality area
- Criminal law.
“When I went to university it was suggested I enrol in law intermediate and it rolled from there. It was only when I finished that I realised I was interested in criminal law.
“Luckily I managed to get a job in the criminal field, which was not easy to get, working for Chris Reid and standing up for people.
“In the old Auckland Magistrate's Court, David Lange and others were there. It appealed to me. The Mag’s Court was practical then…Too formulaic now and bloody terrible.
“When I started to get into the technical side and had successes in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in my field I always regarded myself as pretty fortunate, quite lucky…
“Since then I have been trying to stay out of trouble.”
Married to Ruth – an artist, writer and performance producer – Jeremy has four children and one and a half grandchildren (one being on the way).
Offspring Moss (drums), Volita (vocals and guitar) and Gabriel (bass and piano) make up the band Neo-Kalashnikovs – who describe themselves as three seriously rock ‘n roll siblings “poised for world domination” as the “face of a new, desperately hip breed of neo-grunge band calling for a rebirth in an industry in dire need of a new rock music.”
“Volita has been playing rock music from 14 and I have been a roadie for her music since she was at school. I have an intimate knowledge of all the pub venues in Auckland…Very useful…”
Jeremy also plays the acoustic and electric guitars, and writes songs - liking anything that’s not nostalgic and liking the music young people play.
“I’m tired of my generation of music – I’m tired of it and overdosed on it. I played bass in a band at university… and found if you play for a long time eventually you get a little better - rather than in leaps and bounds.
“I write songs with the kids and record riffs and passages into my smart phone. Some of them make the grade, some don’t. Very few of them make the grade…”
Between reading US poet Charles Bukowski, Depression-era novelist John Fante and catching up on Ernest Hemmingway – “whose books I should have read earlier but didn’t” – Jeremy has taken to writing short stories.
“I wrote one in Whangarei while on a case up there, about a local pizza parlour. It was published on a blog in Arizona somewhere. You can write something and it can be published anywhere. The old days of University Press gatekeepers are gone.
“It’s hard to get anything published in the great New Zealand knocking society so just go to America.
“With four kids I went full on with the criminal law front and didn’t do the usual OE thing.
“I was not really a punk but when I finished university there was the whole punk thing in Auckland and the whole Dunedin sound, so things became a lot more exciting in New Zealand itself.
“Looking back you think that was dangerous, when it was just a whole lot of middle class kids from Selwyn College, who I know now. When you get older you meet them all.
“I drive a 1998 BMW 318 Ti. And the most beautiful spot in New Zealand is Matai Bay up north… up north is the natural place I like.
“I read a lot on the net because with social media you can tap into a lot of creativity and creative people. I can read what Wiki Leaks are putting out and keep up with the play of what’s going on."
Jeremy authors The Acquit Blog – described as “the art of defence and passionate opinion on life and liberty.”
“A lot of lawyers want to stack up a number of trials. I’m not really into that, I am more into individual cases and the person. For example, defending someone Housing New Zealand is trying to throw out on a false basis.
“I’m more interested in that aspect... I’m not trying to stack up some CV to impress bureaucrats…Not interested."
After hundreds of trials he says the case of the Urewera Four stands out as “life changing because I was going through a pretty hard time myself and got bankrupted by the IRD".
Jeremy defended Te Rangikaiwhiria (Rangi) Kemara, who along with Tame Iti, Urs Signer and Emily Bailey faced multiple charges of unlawfully possessing firearms and explosives in the wake of the 2007 Urewera raids against alleged terrorism raining.
Kemara and Iti were jailed for two and a half years.
“I was happy I got to do the trial. It operates at two levels. With a case of that nature when you talking to the jury you can feel the hatred at one level. Then at another level you are probably setting yourself up as a target.
“That doesn’t worry me. I would rather do that than do nothing… but potentially it has consequences.
“Dinner guests are tricky... Epicurus, the Greek philosopher bloke who only ate bread and cheese…Bukowski…Keith Richards…Keith’s a middle class boy from Kent - a Bohemian…
“And definitely no New Zealand wine – an Argentinian Malbec and home-made pizza."
With no other lawyers in the family Jeremy wonders if he is the first and the last.
“The reality is I probably should never have been a lawyer. Maybe something more creative. I don’t know that I am that temperamentally suited to what I do. I have done it but it’s pretty hard work.
“I almost gave the law up but then the law also almost gave me up. I’m too old to change jobs now… I have done my chips.
“I enjoy representing people in court - I get a huge kick out of it but sometimes wonder if I have the right temperament for it."
And in case anyone is wondering, Jeremy says he will formally graduate this year, something he needs to do because he is applying to practise in Queensland as well…
“When I finished my degree at Auckland I got a printout of the fact I was eligible to graduate.
“I needed that to get admitted to the Bar, so I was admitted to the Bar but thought graduation was done automatically.
“I never went back to do the graduation, so technically I haven’t graduated yet and consequently I will be graduating this year.
“And I don’t know that I should say this but I don’t enjoy socialising with lawyers. I find them incredibly boring."
Timaru-based Jock Anderson has been writing and commenting on New Zealand lawyers and New Zealand's courts for most of his career in journalism. Read more of his law-related news with a touch of humour on Jock’s website www.caseload.co.nz and on his Facebook page. Contact Jock at email@example.com.