Anger over court backlog denying thousands of Kiwis justice

By Michael Kelly

In a Facebook post Aukland MP Chris Penk says the “courts are in crisis”. He says the current lockdown has seen 47,000 court events adjourned and has resulted in a backlog of 3,000 jury trials. He also wants to hear about vaccine injuries.

MP Chris Penk.

“New Zealanders deserve access to the justice system in a timely fashion,” writes Penk. “In answers to my written parliamentary questions, we know that 27,970 criminal court cases and 656 civil court cases were postponed just between 18 August and 30 September.”

Penk says covid lockdowns have forced the postponement of court cases at all levels of the judicial system.

“We’ve also seen a postponement of a raft of tribunal cases such as 1,476 Dispute Tribunal cases having been postponed and 497 Tenancy Tribunal matters having required adjournment,” states Penk.

“We knew Covid wasn’t going away. We knew about Delta. This Government failed to prepare the justice system for future lockdowns so only has itself to blame.

“The Minister for Courts (Aupito William Sio) has been forced to admit that he has not even met with officials to discuss the covid-19 Protection Framework and nor has the government made any decisions about vaccine mandates for those working at courts and tribunals, including witnesses and jurors.

“This uncertainty is debilitating for a system already in crisis. The delays are now stretching far into the future with no end in sight.

“Every New Zealander has the right to their day in court in an assured and safe setting. The current delays in access to justice and uncertainty are frankly not good enough.”

Vaccine Injuries

Penk also wants to hear from those who believe they have been medically injured by the covid vaccine and live in his electorate of Kaipara ki Mahurangi. Contact emily.mcgowan@parliament.govt.nz