2 Jan 2013

Ministry denies trial delays due to procedural changes

12:57 pm on 2 January 2013

The Ministry of Justice says the rise in the number of cases waiting to go to trial in Whanganui is due to a spike of new cases, rather than changes to the pre-trial process.

Recently retired Whanganui QC John Rowan claimed the number of cases waiting to go to trial in the district is now double what it used to be when depositions, or preliminary hearings, were automatic.

Deposition hearings were ended in June 2009 with the aim of streamlining the criminal justice process and reducing the time a case takes to get to court.

Mr Rowan said that because issues likely to disrupt a trial used to be sorted out at that stage, such issues are now tying up the higher courts.

The ministry said there were 73 outstanding trials waiting to be heard in Whanganui at the end of October, compared with 48 at the same time in 2011.