Chief Justice Helen Winkelmann has today released a public report about the operation of the courts, and how they are responding to challenges such as COVID-19.
“We have taken this initiative in the interests of transparency – the courts are a public institution. It is important for people to see the work that goes on within the judiciary, together with the Ministry of Justice, to try to ensure our courts meet the needs of our society and that they are resilient in the face of disruption and change.”
The Chief Justice has expressed her concern about the disruption to the courts caused by the protest in Wellington. This has already resulted in the adjournment of a one- week sexual violation trial which was to commence in the Wellington High Court on Monday 21 February.
The Chief Justice said the immediate effect of the ongoing protest activity is that criminal proceedings cannot go ahead if they require the attendance of defendants who are in custody. Protestors’ vehicles have blocked the required secure access to the court.
The Courts have set in place transitional protocols that will cover their operations for the period from 6 December 2021 to 31 January 2022.
During this period, the Courts are working with the Ministry of Justice to set up the infrastructure in New Zealand’s courthouses that will allow them to utilise new protective measures aligned with the public safety objectives of the COVID-19 Protection Framework (the Framework) – such as vaccination passes and rapid antigen testing.