Criminal process delays in Auckland Metropolitan District Courts

ADLS has recently become involved in consultations with various stakeholders directed at improved efficiencies in District Court procedures throughout the Auckland Metropolitan area. Pre-trial and trial criminal processes, Family Court fixtures and the lack of availability of court facilities are under examination.

As part of the consultation, a request was made to organisations like ADLS, NZLS and the Criminal Bar Association to make suggestions to improve the overall functioning of court fixtures in the Auckland metropolitan area.

ADLS and other relevant bodies pledged to work constructively together to address the issues raised. ADLS believes that it behoves the profession to be active in dealing with the issues in order to maintain that constructive approach. Several areas of improvement were signalled at an initial meeting, including the performance of defence counsel as it relates to fixture disruptions.

The message from this note is that all the issues contributing to court delays are being actively assessed. From the point of view of both the courts and the profession, the best remedy is self-correction, remembering the maxim “justice delayed is justice denied” applies equally to delays that can be laid at the door of defence counsel as it does to the court system.

Criminal defence practitioners should be aware that repeated failures to appear at fixtures in contravention of a discharge of one’s duty to the court are likely to occasion court and/or disciplinary sanctions. ADLS encourages the criminal defence bar to be mindful of this obligation so as to avoid being a contributing factor to delayed justice. Criminal defence practitioners should communicate with the relevant court staff if they have any issues with being prepared or available for allocated fixtures.

Courtroom availability and systemic unreliability are other significant issues for the Auckland Metropolitan Courts that were raised at the initial meeting. Further consultation is expected to continue to ensure solutions to these issues.

Should you wish to provide comment on the matters raised in this note, please email the ADLS Criminal Law Committee at committee.secretary@adls.org.nz.

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