New Zealand Law Society - Rise in District Court jury trial caseload

Rise in District Court jury trial caseload

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An underlying trend in District Court jury trials shows a rise in the caseload, Chief District Court Judge Jan-Marie Doogue says.

In an update on the jury trial caseload, Chief Judge Doogue says the active caseload has generally fluctuated between 1700 and 1850 cases per month over the last two years. There was a surge from September 2015 to March 2016 due to increases in new business.

Currently there are 1928 cases on hand, which is 213 or 12% more when compared to March 2014's case numbers. 

The Auckland metropolitan courts have a combined caseload of 603 cases. Of this, Auckland District Court has 302 and Manukau has 301. Hamilton has the third highest caseload with 191 cases.

Chief Judge Doogue says incoming flows have increased over the last two years and are now at levels 26% beyond that of March 2014, up from 230 to 290 new cases permonth.

"Outgoing flows have increased at a more gradual but lower rate than incoming flows. The result is an increase in caseload from September 2015 to March 2016."

She says that on average, over the last six months 54.3% of cases were resolved before trial. Overall, most case resolutions (58.7%) are by way of guilty pleas either before trial (44.7%) or on the day (14%).

"The current caseload is much younger than when compared to March 2014, particularly those cases aged over two years - down from 129 cases in March 2014 to 63 in March 2016."

Age of District Court jury trial caseload

Age Number Proportion
Over 2 years 63 3.3%
Over 1 year but less than 2 years 431 22.4%
Less than 1 year 1434 74.3%