At the direction of the Chief High Court Judge and the Chief District Court Judge, the Jury Trial Bubble Guidelines will be used for the conduct of jury trials in the High Court and District Court. The guidelines cover all participants in a jury trial.
The increased use of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) forms part of Aotearoa New Zealand’s response to Omicron. The Ministry of Justice recognises this response, and has increased the use and availability of RATs across its sites. See RAT guidance for Private Bar Lawyers working at Ministry sites and further information on the judicial protocols.
If you are symptomatic, do not come on site. You can access free RATs if you have symptoms or are a household contact, by ordering online at https://requestrats.covid19.health.nz/ or calling 0800 222 478. The tests can be picked up at your nearest collection centre. To find a collection centre near you, visit: www.healthpoint.co.nz.
Access to the court
Judicial protocols during the COVID-19 protection framework advise that people attending court must:
- show a vaccine pass
- provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test administered within 48 hours of attendance, or
- provide evidence of a negative RAT administered within 24 hours of attendance.
Our court security staff allow the following as evidence of a negative self-administered RAT for building entry for all court participants, including lawyers:
- Showing a negative RAT result within the last 24 hours on ‘My Covid Record’.
- Showing a photograph, taken within the last 24 hours, of the negative test (showing the result panel and preferably at least part of the stick).
- Bringing their negative test in with them (which can be disposed of at the court). For health and safety reasons, this is not the preferred option.
Please note, the judicial protocols and court entry requirements are subject to change as the COVID-19 protection framework is reviewed.
RATs are available for rostered duty lawyers, should they feel the need to use them. To request a RAT kit, contact your duty lawyer supervisor or local Court Manager / PPE contact in the Court Registry.
See the attached guidance document for when you should request RATs.
We suggest tests are completed off-site, before you come to work for the day. However, should you need to take a test on-site, biohazard bins will be available for safe disposal.
Find out more about Rapid antigen testing on the Ministry of Health website.
Jury trial bubble guidelines
At the direction of the Chief High Court Judge and the Chief District Court Judge, the jury trial bubble guidelines will be used for the conduct of jury trials in the High Court and District Court.
The guidelines cover all participants in a jury trial. All court participants involved in a jury trial will be required to take RATs every day for the first three days of the trial and every second day thereafter.
More information can be found in the Jury Trial Bubble Guidelines on the Courts of New Zealand website.
The Ministry of Justice through the court registries will provide RATs to all participants to support this process.
The Ministry is operating two primary models of surveillance testing for the jury bubble process:
- Medical provider onsite that oversees the RAT process: A medical provider will oversee testing. The participant will be taken into a room and given instruction on how to self-administer this test, on each day testing is required.
- Medical provider onsite day one, and self-administered RATs on each subsequent day: On day one of the trial, a medical provider will be there to oversee testing. Then, on subsequent testing days, participants will be provided with RATs to self-test at home before coming to court. Instructions will be provided on what to do if you test positive or negative, and how to self-administer tests.
Note that local variations to the testing process may apply.
What do you need to do?
If you are involved in a jury trial, you will be asked to undertake regular COVID-19 tests. Please arrive at court 30 to 60 minutes prior to the start of the trial to ensure this can be completed before the trial commences. If you have been provided with a RAT kit to test at home, instructions will be provided on what to do if you test positive or negative.
Counsel should communicate with witnesses to ensure they are aware of the requirement to take a test before attending court.
Witnesses can use the onsite medical provider where this is available.
If an onsite provider is not available on the day the witness is to attend court, counsel should ensure a test provided by the registry is supplied to the witness. This is to enable them to self-test at home before coming to court. Where this is not appropriate or possible (e.g. witness is hostile) then please let the court know.
Testing is voluntary. If a participant chooses not to test, the trial judge will be informed and will decide if any action should be taken.
Participants within the bubble
Below are the participant groups that make up the jury bubble. Those present in the public gallery are not part of the bubble:
- Court staff
- Judicial officers
- Officer in Charge of the case
- Empanelled jurors
- Communication Assistants
- Corrections staff (if they haven’t already undergone their own surveillance testing)
Private bar lawyers and legal aid lawyers
If you are not a rostered duty lawyer or involved in a jury trial bubble or proceeding that requires RAT surveillance testing, you will not be able to access the Ministry’s supply of RATs. You can visit Unite against COVID-19 website to find information on when, where and how to get a COVID-19 test, including ordering RAT home testing kits.
See RAT guidance for Private Bar Lawyers working at Ministry sites.
For further information and details on the judicial protocols visit the Courts of New Zealand website.