Judges’ long service leave – comment from Chief District Court Judge Doogue

Chief District Court Judge J M Doogue                 There has been much discussion about an article which recently appeared in The New Zealand Herald on the topic of judges’ long service leave, and which referenced an “off the cuff” comment about stopping jury trials for three months.

The Chief District Court Judge Her Honour J-M Doogue wishes to reassure all practitioners that the claims were incorrect.

“All essential District Court services will continue as planned.  Our focus remains on ensuring access to justice to all New Zealanders without undue delays,” Chief District Court Judge Doogue told Law News.

“The comment obtained from a private memorandum is not being implemented, nor was it ever intended to be, as is clearly obvious to all who read the document.

 “Only one judge is taking the full 20 weeks long service leave in 2014; to attend a Te Reo intensive course at a NZ university. The entitlement under the arrangement negotiated began in September 2013 and for most judges the full entitlement does not accrue until September 2018.

“Under a judge’s terms and conditions a judge may take up the entitlement in shorter periods than the full entitlement with the approval of the Chief Judge. This is what usually happens and most judges take 4-6 weeks at any one time. This lessens the impact on the roster.

“Like all professionals in the justice sector there is a cumulative stress in the role, and this long service leave begins to provide some mitigation against this. Additionally there is no ability for a judge to take time off in lieu, and this 20 week period every 5 years provides some balance for the necessary use of personal time which naturally builds up over a five year period.

“I am proud to represent the District Court judiciary. They are hard-working and focused group of individuals who have chosen the judiciary as a career path, which can for some, result in a substantially reduced earning capacity, most of whom have many decades of professional and academic experience behind them.”

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