What is Amy Adams trying to hide?

amy adams 3

Arts, lifestyle and travel blogger, David Farrar, blogs today about Amy Adams performing a volte-face on the Judicature Modernisation Bill.

This bill was going to allow District Court judgments to be published online just as the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court judgments are. But strangely Amy Adams has removed that clause.

One of the interesting features of the Judicature Modernisation Bill was that it would require (Clause 401) final judgments to be published online of District Courts.  At present, only the judgments of the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court are published online as a matter of course – on Judicial Decisions Online.  So this reform would mean District Court judgments would now be routinely published online. This would be great as it would lead to much more open justice.

As present you have to request release of a district court judgement from the Judge and provide reasons for your request.  This is highly unsatisfactory. Courts should not be secret.

But something very unusual has just happened.  

The Minister of Justice, Amy Adams, has recently published an SOP (Supplementary Order Paper), an amendment if you like, to the Bill before Parliament that completely strikes out the section requiring judgments to be published.

The explanation in the SOP says the publishing of judgments will remain at the discretion of the Judiciary – as is now the case. This is a major backdown, considering it was in the bill at first and second reading and at select committee.

Let’s be clear, if the law does not require judgments to be routinely published online, they won’t be – except for those already being published for the “Senior Courts”.

It is bad enough to remove this clause, but worse to try and do so at committee stage which means it bypasses the select committee.

I hope that Labour, Greens, NZ First, Maori Party, ACT and United Future vote against deleting Clause 401 and vote in favour of open justice. We’ve had widespread Internet for around 20 years now. Having all court judgments online is well overdue.

Like Pinko I hope that the Opposition stands firm on this and Adams’ amendment is defeated.

It does the raise a couple of questions that arise from Adams’s sneaky attempt to bypass the select committee.

What is Amy Adams trying to hide, or keep hidden?

On whose behalf has she made this change?

What possible rationale could there be to not publish District Court judgments?

Amy Adams needs to come clean on this pronto. We need a transparent court system and right now the majority of cases before the District courts are having their judgments effectively suppressed when higher courts are not.


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