How swift is too swift for justice?
Law reform will lead to swift justice, Power says
Simon Power Major changes to New Zealand's legal system that became law yesterday are the start of a modernisation of criminal justice in New Zealand, Justice Minister Simon Power says. Included in the changes are the removal of unanimous verdicts in jury trials and the doing away with witnesses giving evidence at pre-trial hearings such as depositions. From this week, it will no longer be necessary for all 12 jurors to agree on a verdict. Instead, 11 will be sufficient to ensure an acquittal or conviction. The other significant change will see evidence given at depositions - a hearing to determine if a case will go to trial - handed up in written form, instead of being heard orally.
We all agree that Justice needs to happen fast. For the victim allowing justice delayed adds insult to injury, and for the criminal as well, the lesson that your actions have a direct consequence can only be taught if that in fact happens with an immediate trial and sentence handed out.
Allowing mass delays in Justice is not beneficial to anyone, we all accept that, but the way you go about speeding things up is more Court rooms and more Court staff, I am very dubious about the ‘quality’ of Justice we are getting under National, because National’s desire for speed are driven by cost cutting not quality. Remember National wanted to dump jury’s altogether a couple of months ago, well that’s been tempered down to 11 person verdicts and changes to depositions evidence, neither of which seem to gain much speed.
Lowering the threshold from 12 to 11 on a Jury with such little forethought and due purely because National are seeking to cut costs doesn’t bode well and streamlining the depositions hearings has the possible effect to simply suck a lot more innocent people into the grinder.
At least National have dumped their desire to do away with Jury’s, but the Court will be out on these changes and any real speed they generate compared to costs in quality of justice.