Plans softer but lawyers still irked

NZ Herald Jul 15, 2011 

The watering-down of proposals that will fundamentally change the way criminal trials work in New Zealand is being welcomed by the Law Society. But concerns remain over provisions in the Criminal Procedure (Reform and Modernisation) Bill, in particular eroding the right to silence and narrowing the scope of offences that can go before a jury. The justice and electoral committee report on the bill, released yesterday, retained the provision to push the threshold for electing a trial by jury from offences punishable by up to three months’ jail to three years’ jail.

..Justice Minister Simon Power said the committee’s recommendations would be adopted and the bill should be passed before the election. The Government expects the reforms proposed in the bill to result in 43,000 fewer court events, between 1000 and 1400 fewer cases being designated for jury trial, and between 300 and 600 cases going before a jury each year. Labour’s report on the bill said that while it contained a number of worthy reforms, “it leaves the overall system in need of further significant reform, and erodes important liberties in the process without advancing a sufficient case for doing so”.