Delays at Judges’ security worries
Concerned judges have been adjourning or vacating court hearings in South Auckland due to a lack of security staff inside court rooms.
Lawyers working in both the criminal and family courts in South Auckland told court hearings were increasingly being adjourned by judges due to the lack of security staff.
One criminal lawyer said it had been happening on a ‘daily basis’ at Manukau District Court, but had improved in recent weeks.
Besides Manukau, it is understood the other courts affected were Papakura and Pukekohe District Courts.
Family Court lawyer Kirsty Swadling said the issue was causing delays and unneeded stress on those caught up in the court processs.
Often the hearings were being called off at the last minute, Swadling said.
‘‘This itself gives rise to a heightened risk of violence in circumstances where there are not enough security guards present.’’
Lawyer Allan Cooke said just this week he had been in a hearing where there were no security officers present, but the judge had decided to proceed anyway.
However, this year he had about four cases which had been adjourned due to there being no guards.
‘‘It is a fundamental issue. It is not unknown for judges to be the subject of abuse and violence.’’
Chief District Court Judge Jan-Marie Doogue said she was ‘‘aware’’ of lawyers’ concerns about security in the courts.
Responsibility for the guards was a responsibility for the Ministry of Justice, Judge Doogue said.
Ministry of Justice’s general manager for health safety and security Melissa Gill apologised for delays, which she said were due ot a number of factors including unavailability of court security resources that have been deployed elsewhere within the courthouse.
Chief District Court judge Jan-Marie Doogue said she had been made aware of the security concerns.