Court opens doors to pub­lic

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By ES­THER LAUAKI

‘‘We want peo­ple to come here and not see the court as some­thing dif­fer­ent, or as an of­fi­cial build­ing, but as a cru­cial part in cre­at­ing a safer com­mu­nity,’’ Porirua judge John Walker said at the district court’s re­cent open day.

On Novem­ber 27, the pub­lic had the op­por­tu­nity to get a closer look at the jus­tice sys­tem and its work with the com­mu­nity.

The district court’s cor­ri­dors were abuzz with cu­ri­ous chil­dren, par­ents and agency rep­re­sen­ta­tives as they filed in to watch mock pro­ceed­ings in the youth, fam­ily and crim­i­nal court.

Spec­ta­tors jumped at the chance to ask ques­tions about pro­ce­dures and court­room jar­gon fol­low­ing mock tri­als.

Judge Walker, who has reg­u­larly served at Porirua District Court since 2003, said the open day was a ‘‘ very im­por­tant ini­tia­tive’’. It was a fol­low-up to a work­shop held in Fe­bru­ary which brought to­gether lo­cal com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions, so­cial work­ers, po­lice, lawyers, health work­ers, teach­ers, coun­cil and court staff to try to iden­tify and do some­thing about the un­der­ly­ing causes of crime in Porirua.

‘‘The com­mon theme seemed to be so that peo­ple wanted to bet­ter un­der­stand how the court works and [an open day] would give the court the op­por­tu­nity to show­case all the ser­vices that are avail­able,’’ Judge Walker said.

About 30 stalls were set up to ed­u­cate peo­ple on the large net­work of or­gan­i­sa­tions con­nected with the court.

‘‘We have a much big­ger tool box out here [com­pared to any­where else] sim­ply be­cause of the wide range of ser­vices we have avail­able in Porirua to help bet­ter re­spond to the of­fend­ing in this com­mu­nity,’’ he said.

He hopes in fu­ture the lo­cal com­mu­nity will play a more ac­tive role in the jus­tice sys­tem.

‘‘We en­vis­age in­creased com­mu­nity in­volve­ment will lead to jus­tice be­com­ing more rel­e­vant to the com­mu­nity and will re­sult in greater ac­count­abil­ity on of­fend­ers to change their be­hav­iour.’’

Hot seat: Fam­ily court judge Jan Kelly stops dur­ing a mock hear­ing, to ex­plain to the pub­lic how the court in­ter­venes to re­solve tricky dis­putes.

Busted: An ac­tor, play­ing a vi­o­lent do­mes­tic of­fender, gets sen­tenced in a mock pro­ceed­ing at Porirua District Court.

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