New Zealand Law Society - Our Profession, Our People

Our Profession, Our People

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Survey of the High Court Rules Amendments

The Chief High Court Judge, Justice Helen Winkelmann, in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, is conducting a survey of members of the profession regarding the changes to the discovery and case management provisions in the High Court Rules which commenced on 3 October 2011 and 4 February 2013 respectively.

Views of the profession are important to the evaluation of these rule changes. Both the Chief High Court Judge and the ministry would therefore appreciate participation in the survey by members of the profession.

If you have appeared in the High Court in the last year in relation to a civil proceeding, and would like to participate in the survey, please go to the link below and enter your response by Friday 28 March: www.surveymonkey.com/s/WHNKRWK.

The responses provided will be reported to the Rules Committee as part of the evaluation of these rules changes.

Therapeutic justice for gambler offenders

A Senior Justice from the United States, Judge Mark Farrell, was the guest speaker at the first Auckland branch seminar for 2014, held on 18 February. Judge Farrell spoke on Therapeutic justice and its highly successful application to the addicted defendant through the medium of treatment courts.

Judge Farrell is the Senior Justice in the Amherst, New York Criminal and Civil Court. He founded the first suburban Drug Court in the United States in 1996, the first Domestic Violence Court in Erie County in 1997 and he currently operates the nation’s only Gambling Treatment Court, which opened its doors in 2001 and, as of May 2009, the nation’s first suburban Veteran’s Treatment Court.

Judge Farrell was also a keynote speaker at the 5th International Gambling Conference, held in Auckland from 19 to 21 February.

Judge Farrell’s keynote address discussed and analysed the creation, implementation, and experience of the world’s first and only gambling treatment court. He compared and contrasted the traditional and therapeutic justice approaches to gambling abuse and addiction in the criminal justice system and highlighted the lessons learned and the challenges ahead. Judge Farrell discussed the foundational and logistic steps necessary to implement this type of court. 

1 in 95,000 

This was the probability given by a DNA analyst in the trial of Charles Richard Smith when he was convicted of sexually assaulting a women in Sacramento, California, in January 2006. The real probability, however, could have been as low as 1 in 2.

When police arrested Smith and took a swab of cells from his penis, they found a second person’s DNA mixed with his own. At trial, the DNA analyst said the chances of the DNA coming from someone other than the victim were 1 in 95,000.

Even at the time, both the prosecution and the analyst’s supervisor said the odds were more like 1 in 47. A later review of the evidence suggested that the odds were closer to 1 in 13, while a different statistical method said the chances were only 1 in 2.

Yet this 1 in 95,000 probability, provided by a DNA analyst, was among the evidence that landed Smith with a 25-year jail sentence.

These figures once again highlight the importance of lawyers understanding the science involved in a trial so they can both challenge evidence and bring important scientific analysis to the court’s attention. 

Annual Lawyers' sports day

The Law Society’s Canterbury-Westland branch will hold its annual sports day at Elmwood Park on 5 March. Three sports will feature on the programme: cricket, tennis and bowls. If numbers are good two games of cricket will be played, starting at 1pm. A Conveyancing XI will play a Common Lawyers XI in a limited overs match. “Geriatrics” will play “juveniles” in a second match, where ability at cricket is unnecessary to participate. Trophies are at stake in both games.

The tennis will be divided into “competitive” and “social” competitions. A round robin tournament will be played from 1:30 to 5pm. The winner will receive the Gresson Cup and there will be a prize for the runner up.

Depending on registrations, the bowls will probably be progressive triples with prizes for the best bowler and runner up. Play will be from 1:30 to 5pm.

An informal evening function and meal will be held at the Elmwood Bowling Club Pavilion from 6 to 7:30pm at which the prizes will be presented. For more information contact Susan Newman, email susan.newman@lawsociety.org.nz.

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