The Criminal Cases Review Commission is finalising details of its Hamilton headquarters, shortlisting commissioners and getting a website ready, Chief Commissioner Colin Carruthers QC says.
In an early April update on the Commission, Mr Carruthers says during the COVID-19 pandemic the government and businesses are adopting a work-from-home policy, and that is enabling the work to establish the Criminal Cases Review Commission to continue.
It is still intended that the CCRC be ready to take applications from 1 July this year, he says.
Mr Carruthers says he met with the Establishment Advisory Group on 12 March to get their feedback on key elements including the CCRC’s functions, how it will conduct itself, how it will receive and review applications, how it will make decisions and what the look and feel of the CCRC might be.
"We had a vibrant discussion with lots of ideas put forward by the Advisory Group. I particularly enjoyed a session led by the EY Tahi Group that provides a challenge to use tikanga as the foundation for how the CCRC is designed and operated. It was a fruitful session and enabled us to continue on with the development of the CCRC."
He says the CCRC Establishment Advisory Group’s primary purpose is to advise on the CCRC’s establishment, to ensure it gives effect to the Criminal Cases Review Commission Act 2019, its governing statute.
Mr Carruthers says seven properties in Hamilton have been looked at.
"The property and security team at the Ministry of Justice helped us identify a preferred property. This property is very central and very private. It provides a safe and secure working space for staff, commissioners and visitors. We are now in discussion with the landlord to finalise terms and conditions."
Recruitment of Commissioners
He says the CCRC will have between three and seven commissioners, including himself as Chief Commissioner, and a Deputy Chief Commissioner. At least one member will be required to have knowledge or understanding of te ao Māori and Māori tikanga, a third of the members must be legally qualified with a minimum of seven years’ experience, and two-thirds must have criminal justice expertise.
"There has been keen interest in the commissioner roles, with 79 applications received. I have been impressed with the applicants’ high calibre and the time and effort people have put into their applications. We are formalising a shortlist for interview, and I expect appointments to be made by the Cabinet in May 2020. Thank you to everyone who applied," Mr Carruthers says.
Mr Carruthers says that in May he expects to be able to provide a link you to a new website.
"We are working on our interim website with the new application form. This is to enable applicants, their whānau, supporters or representatives to start preparing applications to be received on 1 July," he notes.
Criminal Cases Review Commission - officially a Crown Entity
On 1 July the Criminal Cases Review Commission will be able to receive applications. A major milestone along that path is becoming an independent Crown entity, which happened on 3 April 2020.
"This enables us to open a bank account, receive funding from the Government, register with the IRD, establish a payroll system and see to other behind-the-scenes needs. This means that from 1 July the Commissioners and the staff of the CCRC will be able to focus on their core role of receiving applications and reviewing potential miscarriages of justice," Mr Carruthers says.