District Court

Wonders will never cease, Herald editorial gets something right

The NZ Herald editorial is bang on the money this morning:

Justice Minister Judith Collins will not be endearing herself to some of her legal colleagues now in the judiciary, but she is right. The judges’ long service leave entitlement negotiated with the previous Government is “generous”. She might have used a stronger word were it not for the restraint that parliamentarians and judges are supposed to exercise when commenting on the work of the other.

“Excessive” would be a better description of the perk that gives judges five months leave every five years, in addition to the seven weeks’ holiday they have every year. The deal was done for District Court judges five years ago but has only now come to public notice thanks to Ms Collins’ determination to find out why, despite falling crime rates, the courts remain so slow.

“Troughing” is a another word. I wonder who 5 years ago set that landmine up?

Labour’s Attorney General, Sir Michael Cullen, cannot recollect the reason he agreed to extend the judges long service leave from 65 to 100 days in a package of conditions negotiated in 2008, Labour’s last year of office.

As someone familiar with academic “sabbaticals”, Sir Michael supposed judges would spend the time catching up with developments in their field. The Chief District Court Judge, Jan-Marie Doogue, justifies the leave as recognition of increased jurisdiction and complexity of the work of district courts these days. She says it brings the judges’ terms and conditions closer to those of the High Court and similar international jurisdictions.? Read more »

Environment Court to close?

Policy Parrot says:

Recently this Parrot has been amused with the idle chit chat coming from members of the wig and gown fraternity where it concerns the future of the Environment Court. Apparently some from the Resource Management Sect are not happy that Chris Finlayson is casually discussing the possibility of getting rid of the Environment Court and merging it with the District Court.

Nobody knows if this is a credible discussion or merely a man thinking of ideas aloud but it has caused a flutter and some are filing their teeth to have a little fight in support of the Court. Cherish the loyalty.

The Environment Court has in the distant past a dim legacy of delay. But that was a very long time ago and in the last 5 years or so Acting Chief Judge Laurie Newhook has done much to eliminate the issues of delay so that it can be fairly said that the Court is now swift and responsive.

It is certainly clear to those who frequent the hallowed halls of justice that the process is as quick as it can be given the lack of expedient conduct by parties such as Councils and appellants who are notorious for dragging the chain whilst blaming everyone else including the Court for said delays.

This Parrot has heard that certain corporate heavy weights have been whinging to the Government about the Court process and scathing their distaste for RMA lawyers. What is particularly unusual is that these whinging suits happen to be on a list of corporates who rarely venture into the Environment Court system and for whom unfettered rights to do whatever they want is impinged by a Court process. They can?t stand the thought that a democratic nation might impose a system that upholds natural justice. ?? Read more »

Adult sentencing for adult crime

The Turangi rapist is going to be?sentenced?in the District Court rather than the Youth Court:

The sex attack on a sleeping five-year-old girl at a Turangi campground was so severe that the teenager who committed the crime will be sentenced in court as an adult.

The 16-year-old boy pleaded guilty in Taupo Youth Court yesterday to charges of sexual violation by rape, causing grevious bodily harm and burglary after attacking the girl, a tourist, in a caravan at Club Habitat holiday park on December 21.

The boy, who cannot be named, was led to the courthouse with a blue towel draped over his head. He entered his guilty pleas standing outside the dock, wearing a blue shirt and tie. His mother and father and seven other family members remained silent as they watched from the public gallery.

At the time of the attack, the girl’s family were on an extended holiday through New Zealand.

That night, her parents had gone to the amenity block only metres from the caravan. When the mother returned, she found the door locked and saw a man lying on her daughter. She screamed and ran to find her husband, but when they returned the person had fled. The boy was arrested a week later.

The court was told yesterday that a family group conference had been held last weekend with the boy, his family, and a Victim Support member representing the girl and police. The group concluded he should be sentenced in a higher jurisdiction than Youth Court.

In court, Judge Jocelyn Munro said sentencing under the Youth Court would not be offered after the boy’s guilty plea.

“The seriousness of the offending is such that no sentence in the Youth Court would be adequate,” she said. “The age and vulnerability of the victim and the seriousness of the violence perpetuated against the victim are such that the appropriate sentence would likely exceed any district court summary jurisdiction.”

The pity is that this guy will spend 12 -15 years behind bars and come out of jail in his 30s. No good will ever come of him. I hope his name suppression is removed on sentencing so we can then all see the photos and things he has posted all over Facebook.