Recently we carried a report on the response of the Minister of Justice to a parliamentary written question from National MP David Bennett. The question related to section 27 cultural reports.
Our report of this response gave a misleading impression in relation to the Public Defence Service and its approach to section reports. That is regretted and we apologise to the PDS.
Public Defence Service Director Peter Hutchinson has sent the following communication, which we are happy to publish:
"I note that the NZLS has published a response from Minister Andrew Little to a parliamentary question from National MP David Bennet, namely, “what criteria, if any, must a person fulfil to be recognised as a facilitator of cultural report writing?”
"The Law Society item in the 'Latest news' from 5 March 2019, leads with the header Section 27 cultural report guiding principles divulged and the first paragraph (moved from its original context) refers to the Public Defence Service has prepared guiding principles for when lawyers are seeking to engage an expert to assist with a defendant’s case and these also apply to cultural reports…” Consequently, the way the above item is presented may be confusing to readers in relation to the PDS approach to section 27 reports and I therefore write to clarify any confusion arising, namely:
- The posted response is from units across the MOJ and not just the PDS.
- The PDS have had an expert report guiding principles document in place for some time and it was updated last year to include additional more specific guidance around section 27 reports.
- The first four bullet points listed in the item are a summary extract from the PDS expert report guiding principles document and relate to the probative value of expert reports generally.
- The other bullet points listed in the item are not part of the PDS guiding principles and are related to the Family & Youth Court jurisdiction, while the last paragraph of the post relates to Legal Services.
"I am concerned the Law Society item may create the impression amongst the profession, judiciary, or current and future clients, that the PDS have unduly restrictive criteria not in accord with section 27 of the Sentencing Act in considering the commissioning of section 27 reports. I therefore invite the Law Society to post a clarification in the event of any confusion generated by the item."