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Additional Environment Court alternate judges

Friday, 12 October 2001 Media Statement

Additional Environment Court alternate judges appointed

Associate Minister of Justice Margaret Wilson has announced the appointment of two additional alternate judges to the Environment Court. They are Judge Fred McElrea, District Court Judge of Auckland, and Judge Craig Thompson, District Court Judge of Wellington.

The appointment of Judge McElrea and Judge Thompson increases the Environment Court bench to seven permanent judges and four alternates.

Judge McElrea was appointed as a District Court Judge in 1988 and works in both the criminal and civil jurisdictions. Prior to his appointment to the bench he was a partner in a major Auckland law firm specialising in civil litigation but had also done a considerable amount of town planning work.

Before joining the Crown Law Office in 1983, Judge Thompson was in private practice with an interest in environmental law. He was appointed as a District Court Judge in 1992. At the time of his appointment he was the Deputy Solicitor-General.

Both Judges also have jury warrants which will enable them to deal with defended criminal charges in respect of environment matters which are to be heard with a jury.

The Government has taken several steps this year to alleviate pressures on the caseload of the Environment Court. As well as these appointments, an additional Judge has recently been sworn in to sit in Auckland, and an additional Commissioner has been appointed. In June the Government agreed to commit an extra $2.1 million over three years to the Environment Court.

ENDS

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