“Systemic failures” in the court system are causing unacceptable delays in the scheduling of trials in Queenstown, a lawyer says.
Liam Collins says many defendants facing criminal charges are choosing to plead guilty when told they will have to wait a year before going to trial.
The delays are caused by a lack of resourcing at Queenstown’s court, and the Ministry of Justice needs to address the issue, he says.
Collins’ comments came at a hearing on Friday to consider his application for charges to be dismissed against his client, former New Zealand basketball representative Craig Bradshaw.
Bradshaw, 32, of Lower Hutt, is charged with assaulting Gareth Johnson with intent to injure in the resort on June 13, 2014. He is also charged with failing to appear in court in Auckland on December 4 last year.
Collins told judge Bernadette Farnan that two years had passed since his client’s alleged offending.
“Has the delay got to a point where Mr Bradshaw can no longer have a fair trial? In my opinion it has.”
A judge-alone trial initially set down for November last year had been postponed for six months.
The assault charge had arisen from a night-time “street fight” and witnesses’ memories were in question.
He was assigned to 13 outstanding judge-alone trials at present, with an average waiting time of 11 months.
“Justice delayed is justice denied.”
Farnan pointed out other district courts were experiencing longer delays. To which Collins replied: “Not being the worst is not a goal to strive for.”
Farnan dismissed the application, which was opposed by police.
Bradshaw’s judge-alone trial will proceed tomorrow.
Otago Daily Times