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Judges Should Update Themselves On New Legislation

2 August 2002

Goff – Judges Should Update Themselves On New Legislation

Judges must update themselves on what the new Sentencing Act requires, says Justice Minister Phil Goff.

“Some statements from Judges indicate that not all of them have read and clearly understood what the new legislation allows and requires.

“A Judge in the District Court in Greymouth this week was reported to have said that the new legislation only allows reparation to be ordered for the victim and not for the victim’s family when the victim is killed.

“Section 4 of the Sentencing Act defines ‘victim’. Under paragraph (a) of the definition, ‘victim’ includes:

“every member of the immediate family of a person who as a result of an offence committed by another person, dies or is incapable.”

“Clearly the Judge could have imposed a sentence of reparation in this case.

“It is not satisfactory that basic mistakes of this nature are being made.

“Before the election a District Court judge in Christchurch claimed that the new legislation prevented him from imposing penalties on an offender aged 15 which he was able to under the previous legislation.

“In fact the new legislation made no change in how the judge could have dealt with someone that age.

“The Judge’s mistaken belief was a front page headline and was corrected neither by the Judge nor by the newspaper in which the story appeared notwithstanding the fact that the error was pointed out both to the judiciary and the media.

“While any new legislation takes some time to settle in, Judges need to take the time to read the law to avoid mistakes of this kind,” Mr Goff said.

Ends


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