Update from South Auckland Courts - Level 2 this week

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Friday that Auckland will move to Alert Level 2 from 6.00am today (Sunday 7 March), the Chief Justice released a Media Statement setting out the court arrangements for the upcoming week.

Below are the arrangements that will be in place at South Auckland Courts from tomorrow (Monday 8 March), in line with the Chief Justice’s Media statement and the Chief District Court Judge’s Alert Level 2 Protocol.

Drop-in sessions via a Microsoft Teams Meeting will be available from 1.00pm-1.30pm tomorrow (Monday 8 March) and Tuesday 9 March if you need to drop-in with any questions or concerns about our transition into Alert Level 2 this week.  The connection details for the drop-in sessions are at the bottom of this email update. Alternatively, you can email the court or any of the managers (see contact list).

Access to the Court | Hygiene Measures

  1. Public access remains restricted

Entry to the court will continue to be limited to members of the Judiciary, Ministry of Justice staff, defendants, parties, witnesses, complainants, victims and other stakeholders. Members of the public (including a whānau support person/s for a defendant) whose presence is not required at court will not be permitted to enter unless they are granted permission from the presiding Judge. 

      1. Whanau and Support Person: To assist court security to manage safe distancing at the front entrance, we encourage parties/counsel to email the relevant court in advance so that approved names of any support people can be provided to court security in a timely way.  Please note: While a separate process applies for support people in the Youth Court (see District Court Protocol applying to the Youth Court, para 66), please contact the court if any support people for youth court matters include any children.
      2. Counsel taking instructions at the Court: Any unused courtrooms will be available for counsel to take instructions to assist with physical distancing.  However to assist court security to manage the flow of people entering the court in a safely-distanced manner, we encourage counsel to contact, take instructions and brief witnesses away from the courthouse, so far as possible. Court security staff may request people to wait outside the court or courtroom to ensure safe distancing requirements are being managed effectively.    
  1. Counters / Customer Service Centre

All South Auckland Courts’ counters will be open to the public from Monday.

  1. Additional hygiene measures continue to be available

PPE and wipes continue to be available on request at the security station at the courts’ front entrances. The courts will also continue to be cleaned to the higher Alert Level 4 standards.

  1. Wearing of Face Masks

All those attending court should wear masks in all public areas and courtrooms. Counsel, defendants, parties and witnesses may be required to remove face masks when speaking.

Criminal Matters

  1. Jury Trials to resume

Jury trials will resume at Manukau District Court from this Monday 8 March 2021. Alert Level 2 measures for jury courtrooms will again be reinstated to support safe distancing. This includes an extension of the juror box to support distancing requirements between jurors, distancing in the jury assembly area for empanelling and the use of Perspex screens for jurors in the courtroom.  Please note: During last week’s 1pm drop-in session, the court was informed that the Manukau Jury email address was not working. We confirm that the email address has been fixed and all jury-related email correspondence can be sent to manukau.jury@justice.govt.nz

  1. Arrests to return to the relevant South Auckland court to be dealt with

All South Auckland arrests will go back to being dealt with at the relevant South Auckland Court – Manukau, Papakura or Pukekohe District Courts.

  1. Registrar’s Court to resume

The following measures will again be reinstated to help maintain social distancing in and around the Registrar’s Court.  These measures will be closely monitored by the court throughout the day, and court staff will work closely with key stakeholders to employ additional measures if required:

    1. Registrar’s Court will be held in Courtroom 5.
    2. Only 10 people will be permitted in the Registrar’s Court at any given time.  This number includes the Registrar, Prosecutor, Counsel and Defendant.
    3. The Registrar will call 4 matters every half hour.  The Registrar can call more than 4 matters per half hour as long as the number of people in the courtroom does not exceed 10.
    4. The Registrar’s Court matters have been scheduled  according to the following structure:

9.00am Session

First Appearances (new charges)

10.00am Session

Second Appearances or any other remands from previous dates

11.45am Session

Second Appearances or any other remands from previous dates

2.15pm Session

Probation Matters

  1. JP Courts to resume

JP Courts will resume this week at all South Auckland Courts

  1. All other criminal court matters to go ahead

All other criminal matters to go ahead under Alert Level 2 this week as scheduled.   

  1. Counsel appearing remotely by VMR

While counsel may appear by VMR, please take note of specific court matters in the Alert Level 2 protocol (paras 20-23) where counsel must appear in person, unless otherwise directed by the presiding Judge.  Attached are the guidelines, which include VMR details for each courtroom.  Remember to email the relevant South Auckland court to notify the Registry that you intend to appear remotely, as courtrooms and VMR details are subject to change at short notice.  Please note: When appearing remotely, please check whether you are connected into the courtroom.  This includes where the court has not yet dialled into the VMR session to connect counsel into the courtroom for remote appearances. The court can only start and end the VMR connection. We therefore encourage all counsel to ensure they have ended the VMR call at their end if they no longer wish to appear in the courtroom as the court may use the same VMR connection for remote appearances and testing.

Youth Court Matters

  1. All youth court matters to go ahead under Alert Level 2 this week as scheduled.
  2. Youth Advocates and Oranga Tamariki staff should familiarise themselves with the process for whānau or a support person/s and ensure that requests are emailed to the court.

Family Court Matters

  1. Family Court matters are subject to separate communications from Judge Mahon, as acting Family Liaison Judge for South Auckland.

Civil Proceedings

  1. Civil proceedings to go ahead under Alert Level 2 as scheduled.

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