A pilot program has been rolled out in Christchurch which sees the first time Community Magistrates sit in the South Island.
The program, welcomes by Justice and Courts Minister Amy Adams, will run for two months and is part of the work of the Christchurch Justice and Emergency Services Precinct project to test new ways of working to benefit the justice system.
During the pilot, Community Magistrates from Auckland will sit for three days a week across three timeslots. There are 16 Community Magistrates who sit in the Northland, Auckland, Manukau, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Wairoa, New Plymouth and Whanganui courts.
“Community Magistrates will bring benefits to the Christchurch courts by freeing up District Court Judges to deal with serious offending, prioritising arrest cases and reducing waiting times for court users,” says Minister Adams.
“The building of the new precinct has presented an opportunity to run the pilot programme and see if it is effective at improving court scheduling and giving a better experience to our court users in Christchurch,” she adds.
Community Magistrates are an important component of the District Court and deal with a wide range of less serious cases in the District Court’s criminal jurisdiction, the Minister’s office notes.
They may deal with offences punishable by a fine of up to $40,000, and may sentence offenders who plead guilty to an offence punishable by up to three months’ imprisonment.
“Judicial Justices of the Peace remain important to the work that the courts do and will continue to work in Christchurch alongside the Community Magistrates,” says Adams.
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