Right to jury trial could be decided by courts

NZ Herald Sep 15, 2011
People accused of child-smacking or domestic violence crimes could keep the right to have their cases heard by a jury, under an eleventh hour proposal to make the Government’s criminal justice reforms more palatable. Justice Minister Simon Power continues to talk to parties about the Criminal Procedure (Reform and Modernisation), which needs four votes other than National’s to pass. Negotiations have mainly focused on the provisions around an accused’s right to silence, but the bill would also substantially narrow the criminal cases that could be heard by a jury.
Currently defendants can choose a trial by jury if they are facing a charge with a maximum penalty of at least three months’ jail; the bill proposes pushing the threshold to three years, which would see a change to the Bill of Rights Act.