Public Defence Service appoints new director

by Samantha Woodhill25 Feb 2015
The Public Defence Service has appointed Wellington lawyer, Madeleine Laracy as its new director.  She has acted in the role since last April last year and has been on secondment from Crown Law.

Laracy will head up the 190 person team, which handles approximately 16,000 cases per year.

An expert on the law of contempt in New Zealand, she has been lead counsel on many significant criminal and contempt of court cases in the Supreme Court.  She has also managed New Zealand’s international criminal co-operation requests for mutual assistance.

In this role, Laracy will focus on new national training plans for lawyers across a range of experience levels.

“We have the opportunity to focus on making the improvements that will make the PDS a really great place to train junior lawyers and to retain senior lawyers who can mentor those new to their careers,” she said.  “While I'm building on the work of my predecessor Brendan Horsley, some of the initiatives I've put in place have included a national PDS training plan, enhanced professional development and leadership training for all PDS managers.  The PDS has a key role to play in helping to achieve the Ministry's mission of modern, accessible people-centred justice services. “

Another area of focus for Laracy will be developing the relationships that the PDS has with other organisations in the profession to improve the justice system overall.

“While maintaining the statutory independence of the PDS-client relationship is essential, I believe it is also important that we develop our relationships with the wider legal profession and that we also share our experience and insights with other parts of the Ministry of Justice to ensure that we are jointly working to improve justice processes,” she said.

She continued, “I'm very pleased to be in a role that allows me to use my skills both as a criminal lawyer and as a manager of criminal lawyers.  I'm privileged to be leading an organisation that does such important work, providing access to justice to the public.”