Text message reminder service goes live in District Courts

A new text message reminder service is now available for those appearing in court, offering defendants the option to receive an automated text message the day before their district court hearing, reminding them of the date, time and location.

“Text reminders are commonplace for many sorts of appointments, from hospital to hairdressers, and this new service should help defendants by prompting them the day before they are due in court,” says Justice Minister Amy Adams.

“District courts deal with hundreds of thousands of cases every year. While we’ve made significant strides in improving the scheduling of appearances and using judges’ time and court facilities efficiently, it’s pointless if defendants miss their appearances.

“Many criminal cases are cancelled because the defendant simply doesn’t show up. This wastes the time of everyone in court, including the judge, lawyers, witnesses and victims, and draws out the time it takes for the case to be resolved. In addition to being inefficient, this increases stress on victims.” LN

Currently there is a four to six per cent “no show” rate in case review, sentencing and judge-alone trial events. This results in more than 3500 court events being re-scheduled each year alongside the issue of 3500 arrest warrants for those who fail to attend court.

The new service is part of a wider strategy to modernise the courts and speed up the time taken for district court cases to reach a conclusion. It will initially be offered to criminal defendants with the intention to extend it to family and civil court users and disputes tribunal users in the near future.

Defendants can sign up for the text service at: http://www.justice.govt.nz/courts/districtcourt/text-message-reminders, by calling 0800 268 787 or in person at their nearest courthouse.

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