The wireless internet has finally come to New Zealand’s local justice system as the Ministry of Justice announces that the Waitakere and Manukau District Courts have WiFi access points.
The move follows wireless internet being successfully rolled out in the higher court system, and Heather Baggott – Ministry of Justice general manager of District Courts – says the District Courts in Auckland and North Shore will go wireless in August.
While WiFi is supposed to be an enabling technology, the court wireless system will only be for judges, court officers, counsel and the media – defendants, witnesses and the public will not have access.
“The WiFi service is part of our commitment to modernise courts and to continuously improve the service we provide the judiciary, parties and other government agencies,” says Baggott.
“We’re pleased to make it easier for people to access the information they need digitally. People working in the courts will be able to access legislation and case law online, rather than having to carry paper copies.”
The Ministry, while unveiling its court WiFi system, is also reminding parties that wireless doesn’t mean a free-for-all, and the existing in-court guidelines on electronic devices are not affected by wireless technology.
In-court media coverage guidelines include, part 5, which says no person other than a member of the media may make a record in court (notes, film or recording), unless given permission by the Judge. No one other than members of the media may make an electronic communication from inside the courtroom to outside the courtroom, and while the Judge is sitting in court for chambers, or in closed court, no electronic communication may take place.
“The Ministry is monitoring use of the service to help decide if further expansion is needed in other court buildings,” says Heather Baggott.