The courts have provided this update of the current arrangements planned for this week.  South Auckland courts will re-activate its most recent Level 3 measures that were in place in August last year in line with the Chief District court Judge’s Alert Level 3 Protocol in place.  The Level 3 Protocol in August set out that as an essential service, the District Court intends to undertake as much of its usual business as possible in the criminal, family and civil jurisdictions

While we expect things to look very similar to last time, please be prepared for any changes. 

The following arrangements for South Auckland Courts are:

  • South Auckland Court’s Schedule: Per the Level 3 Protocol, the District Court intends to undertake as much of its usual business as possible in the criminal and civil jurisdiction.  Please see attached a draft schedule of matters planned to go ahead tomorrow for both custodial and non-custodial matters, with the exception of the following matters that will be adjourned under Alert Level 3 this week.  An updated schedule will be sent out around 6am tomorrow morning by our Scheduling Team:

Matters to be rescheduled under Alert Level 3 this week

    1. Jury Trials: All jury trials at South Auckland courts will be suspended as there are no juries currently deliberating. No new jury trials will begin until this Thursday at the earliest (pending an announcement regarding an alert level change)
    2. Registrar’s Court: All work scheduled to be heard in the Registrar’s Court at Manukau will be administratively adjourned, with the exception of family violence matters where those defendants are already represented by counsel.  Regarding any family violence matters (scheduled in the Registrar’s court), if a request for an adjournment is not received by the court before the time it is scheduled, the family violence matter will be called in the Judges’ List Court on the date and time scheduled.  The Court Registry will be working to administratively adjourn all other matters scheduled for Registrar’s Court for the duration of Level 3
    3. Any other matter that will be rescheduled to another date: On direction by the Judge

In acknowledging the impact of rescheduling matters at short notice, we highly advise parties to call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) on the day their matter has been rescheduled. In the meantime, the Registry will continue to be working hard to contact parties if a decision has been made to reschedule the matter.

  1. Requests for Adjournments

Any requests for adjournments will be directed by the presiding Judge on a case-by-case basis.  Given the short notice of the change to Alert Level 3, any adjournments will likely be directed by a Judge in Court.  Nevertheless, the Registry will aim to place any requests for adjournment received via email before a Judge for direction as a matter of priority to ensure parties are notified of the request prior to the matter being called this week.  Please ensure that any requests for adjournments are sent to the relevant court’s generic email address:

  1. Counters closed

Public counters will be generally closed and dropbox facilities will be available at the front entrances for those filing applications in person at the Court.  Please note however that staff are available to answer any queries, particularly from lawyers, throughout the day.  

  1. Restricted Access to the Public will apply

Entry to the court will be limited to members of the Judiciary, Ministry of Justice staff, defendants, parties, witnesses, complainants, victims and other stakeholders. Members of the public whose presence is not required at court will not be permitted to enter unless they are granted permission from the presiding Judge.  This includes any whānau support person/s for a defendant, whether in custody or at large/on bail. 

While courts staff will be available at the front entrance to help convey any requests for support people, we highly encourage parties/counsel to email the relevant court as soon as possible to seek permission from the Judge in advance so that approved names of any support people can be provided to Court Security at the front entrance.  This will help to minimise any delays, and help us to manage physical distancing at our front entrances. 

Please note that while a separate process applies for support people in the Youth Court (see District Court Protocol applying to the Youth Court), parties/counsel are encouraged to contact the court if any support people for youth court matters include any children.

  1. All South Auckland Arrests to be dealt with at Manukau

All arrests matters will be dealt with at Manukau to eliminate the need to transport detainees from the Manukau hub to the Papakura and Pukekohe Courts

  1. Papakura and Pukekohe Courts

Matters scheduled to be heard at Papakura and Pukekohe will go ahead with the exception of those matters that will be administratively adjourned.  Please contact the relevant court to check whether a specific matters will be going ahead.  Papakura and Pukekohe courts will be open for scheduled court business only.  This means that counters will remain closed at these courts as well and that any overnight arrests for South Auckland will be heard at Manukau for the duration of Level 3.

  1. Counsel appearing remotely

If counsel wish to appear remotely, please see attached guidelines which includes the VMR details.  However as mentioned in the attached guidelines, please remember to contact the relevant court notifying us of your intended remote appearance to ensure your appearance runs smoothly

  1. Warrants to Arrest

Per the Level 3 Protocol (para 27), warrants to arrest will be issued on a case-by-case basis.  However, please note that as a general approach, warrants to arrest would not be issued by presiding Judicial Officers if they have been informed that the defendant has called 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) advising that he or she is unable to enter the court because they are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.  Court Security will also be providing this same information at the front entrances to the Court.

  1. Additional hygiene measures

While the Level 3 Protocol states that counsel should aim to take instructions and brief witnesses outside the courthouses, so far as possible, unused courtrooms will be available at the court for counsel to take instructions to assist with physical distancing.  Courtrooms 5 and 12, along with other available courtrooms, will be available for lawyers to take instructions. Please ask Court Security which rooms are available to take instructions on the day.

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

  1. South Auckland Managers – Contact List

Please find attached an updated contact list if you wish to get in contact with any of South Auckland managers

I hope this provides some helpful information for now.  I will provide a further update as things develop.

Please note that Judge Moses is the Acting Executive Judge for South Auckland while Judge Malosi is on leave.