JURY TRIALS - The majority rules in the courtroom from next year. As part of a big overhaul of the jury system announced today, juries will be allowed to return majority 11:1 verdicts, instead of the current unanimous decisions that are required. The aim is to reduce the number of trials that end with hung juries. But defence lawyers are not convinced. 12 jurors sitting in judgment..but not always sitting in agreement - the percentage of hung juries has doubled in a decade to 8% of trials. " Hung juries impose incredible costs, personal and financial and emotional on defendants, complainants and witnesses alike - the unanimity rule has put real pressure on jurors," says Goff. So, after 10 years of research and four Law Commission reports, the Government's taking action.
PUZZLE BOOKS - A new scheme is being trialled to help child witnesses relax before giving evidence. Children are to get activity packs with puzzle books and games - all of them based on how the courts work. Minister Matt Robson, who launched the programme today, says he aims to have the packs in all courts next year.
CORRECTIONS - The army and police are poised to take over running the country's prisons from Monday, if as expected, industrial action begins. But it may yet be avoided. The Employment Court has been asked to rule that the notice of industrial action by prison officers is invalid. Prison officers in Christchurch were among those around the country who voted to reject the latest pay offer this afternoon.
WAVE GOODBYE - The 3 day long knowledge wave conference has ended in Auckland with the Prime Minister saying New Zealand must embrace globalisation. Helen Clark says New Zealand shouldn't sulk away from the international free market and that globalisation could make our economy a winner. For 3 days anti-globalisaton and anti genetic engineering protestors have maintained a vigil outside.
GERALDINE - Police were out in force in the South Canterbury town of Geraldine today, a week after the brutal murder of local man, Des Payne. He was stabbed to death in his car outside a pub where he'd enjoyed a lunchtime drink. 7 days on, police appear to have no firm leads and no murder weapon. Today the pub where Des Payne shared his last drink was all but empty, after several years of a regular Friday...
MORE RANKIN COURT BATTLES LOOM - Christine Rankin may be in for another court battle, this time over the cost of the case she lost yesterday. Crown Law is considering suing Rankin to recover its costs which the government says are already $400,000. The government won't have a say in the Crown prosecutor's decision.
DENGUE - Medical staff are on the alert for symptoms of Dengue Fever in New Zealand after increasing numbers of people have caught the virus from an outbreak in Samoa. At least 21 travellers from the Auckland region plus 6 others, have returned from tropical holidays with the illness, compared to just one last year. Auckland's Public Health Protection unit has a growing list of people with dengue...