Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Hidden in plain sight

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  • Phil Lyth,

    Graeme, can you comment on what appear to be hugely excessive delays in the Courts. Power is promoting these changes to speed things up. But is it just a case of an administrative shambles?

    Anyone can track the lack of progress of cases. For example, the former ACC manager who was sentenced yesterday for accepting bribes: took 11 months from coming into the public eye till sentencing.

    Justice delayed is justice denied and all that. Why are the Courts not dealing fast - and fair - instead of being the last vestige of Gliding On?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to andrew r,

    I practise regularly at the defence bar …. and i can tell you its becoming more and more of a chore for various reasons . Too many to go into here

    Aw, that's a teaser. C'mon, give us the main ones!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Graeme, can you comment on what appear to be hugely excessive delays in the Courts. Power is promoting these changes to speed things up.

    A bunch of different reasons:

    There number of people charged has increased, and sentences have increased (for some offending quite markedly);

    The number of people charged with offences where the trials are lengthy (e.g. meth dealing) has increased;

    The nature and quality of evidence is different – there is now a lot more expert evidence: mostly DNA, or computer forensics, but also things like crash investigators and psychiatrists – there can be delay in getting analyses done due to overwork of forensic technicians and scientists;

    Things like massive phone/text taps and interception warrants in e.g. drug cases have massive amounts of eveidence which first the prosecution must prepare, and second the defence must digest;

    Legal aid rates haven’t kept pace with inflation, leading to more firms pulling out, and legal aid lawyers taking on more clients than the otherwise would in order to make a ‘reasonable’ salary (after expenses etc.) so you have timetabling concerns, people focussing on one case when if they’d focussed earlier on a different one it might have been able to be resolved etc.

    And lots of things I haven’t even thought of.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • andrew r, in reply to BenWilson,

    Ha, good point Ben . Too tired , its Friday after all .

    auckland • Since May 2007 • 99 posts Report Reply

  • Hayden Wilson,

    andrew r - I did say I might be alone in thinking that written briefs might be a good thing. For my part I don't necessarily accept that they fly in the face of innocent until proven guilty - sure you would need some safegurads around how it would work (of which my latter suggestion was one), but its not the exchange of briefs themselves that work against the concept - all they do is ensure that the focus of the trial is on the matters that are actually at issue. The prosecution still has to prove its case, the defence has to prove nothing. All it means it that everyone knows what has to be proven. I think it would work both to ensure more, and more appropriate, guilty pleas and see more charges withdrawn when the prosecution realises how flimsy/unangelic their witnesses are or their case is.

    I am also in favour of increasing the cost (in money or otherwise) of unsuccessful prosecutions, in order to dissuade unnecessary prosecutions and/or overcharging. Unfortunately the potential cost to the Crown makes that probably a pipedream.

    ...and (for the record) I do do more prosecution than defence work, but I still do some defence and (for that reason) would never just blame the defence bar for clogging up the system!

    Since Nov 2006 • 27 posts Report Reply

  • Bob Dobelina,

    Thanks for that review. The word from the judges is indeed huge shit. Don't forget too that they despise the Three Strikes Act and grimace each time they have to read its heavy handed warning.

    let's not forget that one definition of the defence lawyers is "people paid to lie for you"

    Let's also not forget that the nickname for the formal police attire worn in court is a "lie suit" to wear in the "truth box". Nyuck nyuck. Good one guys.

    My biggest concern is the requirement to disclose the defence. This will just allow the police to re-interview or go after (create?) new evidence long after the arrest. It also seems unethical. Judges ask at status hearings what matters in dispute and I always say "all matters are in issue". Some judges get grumpy, others don't.

    The right to a jury trial bothers me less because there isn't really an out and out obvious level at which it should be set. 3 months, a year, 5 years? There's no formula. And three months is super low.

    I'm still against the change however because the real purpose of a jury in my mind is to put a buffer between the judge (appointed by the state) and the Crown bringing the prosecution.

    Anyway, thanks for the precis of the changes.

    Since Mar 2011 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • sean14,

    Hi Graeme

    On a somewhat related matter, do you know what the status of the Search and Surveillance bill is?

    Cheers, Sean.

    Since Mar 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Hayden Wilson,

    Sean, it is on the order paper, but a looooong way down

    Since Nov 2006 • 27 posts Report Reply

  • sean14,

    Thanks Hayden.

    Since Mar 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Wingate,

    Having wasted many millions of dollars in the NZ legal system I am not surprised the politicians are taking a shot. The legal club have ridden NZ like a mule. Lawyers need to start asking why is New Zealand failing, now the 3rd most indebted nation is the OECD.

    I was interested to hear the New Zealand Prime Minister John Key wants the country developed into an international financial hub. But the Ministry of Economic Development first want Magna Carta type overhauls.

    "There's been a whole series of advice coming from MED which basically says 'if you want to do this, you've got to deliver the Magna Carta of documents'," Key told the International Business Forum audience. What does that imply?

    Craig Stobo - who chairs the Government-appointed group which was tasked with working out how an international funds services industry could be created here has stressed important issues must first be faced. "The country must ensure investor protection standards are adequate and it must promote the quality of the NZ Government regime."

    Is New Zealand in need of a fiduciary overhaul at the highest levels?

    Have some of our leaders become a club that protect eachother and to heck with all else ?

    Read this and try telling me the legal system is not rotten. http://lawisanass-wingate.blogspot.com/2011/03/sir-peter-tapsell-asked-me-to-snapshot.html

    Perth • Since Mar 2011 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Wingate, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Australian lawyers lashed over costs, delays

    THE nation's top judge has launched an attack on cost and delay in the legal system, saying "intolerable" delays are now accepted in criminal cases and that expense is "the greatest blot" on the civil litigation landscape. High Court Chief Justice Murray Gleeson also urged judges to assert their authority over "well-resourced" parties who used the courts as "instruments of oppression".

    http://lawisanass-wingate.blogspot.com/2010/12/2007-high-court-chief-justice-murray.html

    Perth • Since Mar 2011 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Christopher Wingate,

    Lawyers need to start asking why is New Zealand failing, now the 3rd most indebted nation is the OECD.

    Probably because we borrow like mad to buy houses, cars, and other domestic goods and services. Lawyers have SFA to do with it, and neither does the Government. Our debt is largely private, not public, Shon Key's conflations of the two notwithstanding.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Wingate, in reply to Phil Lyth,

    I introduced a very wealthy Tauranga (Papamoa) property developer to a well know Rotorua barrister I will call Murray. Mr X from Papamoa had issues with a minority shareholder over a shopping centre.

    My wife and I bumped into Murray one day, maybe 2 years later, and I asked-
    "How is Mr X and you getting on with that case?"

    Murray answered in glee "It's too good to settle" as he rubbed his money fingers together.

    Too many lawyers ignore their fiduciary duty they owe their clients. Their conflict begins in earning themselves huge fees versus them honestly servicing the client's best interests.

    Perth • Since Mar 2011 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Wingate, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Regulatory control is set by the government who are advised by the lawyers who are employed by the bankers

    Perth • Since Mar 2011 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Our debt is largely private, not public, Shon Key's conflations of the two notwithstanding.

    And financial illiteracy is being willfully exploited to justify cutting and running. The whole 'international financial hub' thing is little more than an embellished John Frum prayer. The only antidote, it seems, to crass materialism without resorting to 'nanny statism', comes from Iceland.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5419 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY, in reply to Christopher Wingate,

    The legal club have ridden NZ like a mule. Lawyers need to start asking why is New Zealand failing, now the 3rd most indebted nation is the OECD.

    What a load of tosh. What the hell is this "legal club" you refer to? Get more than two lawyers together and you can almost guarantee an argument will erupt. A club?

    I'm pretty sure plenty of lawyers have been asking some hard questions about NZ's indebedness for quite a while now, and I doubt it's got much to do with the legal profession.

    But then I would say that.

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Christopher Wingate,

    Regulatory control is set by the government who are advised by the lawyers who are employed by the bankers

    Yeah yeah, and they're all in it with the Illuminati.
    I don't want the government to regulate what I can spend my money on, or regulate what banks can lend me money to buy. I won't be alone. So what would regulation achieve, exactly, other than to piss me right off by interfering with how I spend my money?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Wingate, in reply to ScottY,

    Each year more and more of the red tape destroys macro and micro economic engines. The facts are that more lawyers equals lower growth, lower GNP.

    As for the legal club- members don't need to be just friends, they just need to be attracted to the same aims, monopoly power and more income.

    Perth • Since Mar 2011 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Wingate, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Who said anything about how you spend- it's how the banks borrow and loan- it's about income vs debt ratios', about managing asset bubbles. Bollard suggests his loan-to-value restrictions will dampen credit bubbles- that ignores the fact values are inflated by motivated self interest parties. He also said the Reserve Bank has forced lenders to reduce their reliance on short-term overseas funding by introducing its core funding ratio. That is regulatory control. Measures to regulate over the years have incurred the endless lobby of lawyers working for self interest groups- banks, investment advisors, etc. The result- 3rd most indebted nation in the OECD and 232,000 investors with $8.5b on deposit being told their deposits are in many cases- gone. So if the lawyers played no part in all that then who did- who controls the rules?

    Perth • Since Mar 2011 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Wingate, in reply to ScottY,

    It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.
    Adam Smith

    Perth • Since Mar 2011 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY, in reply to Christopher Wingate,

    Each year more and more of the red tape destroys macro and micro economic engines. The facts are that more lawyers equals lower growth, lower GNP.

    You got a citation for that? Or are you just having a rant because someone screwed you over and now you think it’s a vast conspiracy by the entire legal profession?

    EDIT Okay, all I'm doing is feeding the troll. Am stopping now.

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Wingate, in reply to ScottY,

    Calm down. "The Encyclopedia of public choice", Volume 2, by Charles Kershaw Rowley, Friedrich Schneider- is just one of many

    Perth • Since Mar 2011 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Wingate, in reply to ScottY,

    " It is human nature for people to make decisions which are rooted in self-interest. They do not need to collude to promote interests they share." - Vince Siemer

    Perth • Since Mar 2011 • 10 posts Report Reply

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