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No hearing for criminal lawyers’ case

  • May 31st, 2011

The protesting criminal defence lawyers have a point. The partial replacement of independent barristers by state employees could abet a repressive government.

But until the bench and bar accept their responsibility for the disgraceful game they've made out of our criminal law, the protestors will get little traction. Indeed the Minister of Justice will probably gather more support for National the more rudely he rebuffs them. Today's DomPost editorial sums up informed public reaction.

When the judges and the profession propose substantial reforms they might deserve a hearing. They've allowed the time from arrest to trial to balloon. The Urewera terrorists delay is outrageous, but any delay of more than a few months is scandalous. Typical delays of a year should have them burning with protest zeal. Instead of changing the way they judge (for judges) or coming up with reforms (in the case of the bar) they confine themselves to opposing most of the material changes the Minister has explored.

Similarly they do not deserve consideration while they remain indifferent to the huge expense of pandering to their belief that what they do is so important that it is immoral to subject it to cost benefit assessment.

There are many changes that could trim time and cost, in ways with little bearing on the only vital priorities –  avoiding conviction of the innocent, and promoting conviction of the guilty.

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