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Jury trials return to Christchurch in early 2012

Jury trials return to Christchurch in early 2012

Jury trials in central Christchurch will operate from early next year, Minister for Courts Georgina te Heuheu announced today.

A number of modular buildings, known as portacoms, are being used to construct the purpose-designed jury building. The facility will be located near the Christchurch Central Police Station on Cambridge Terrace.

Mrs te Heuheu said definitive answers around the structural condition of main court buildings in the city are not yet available. The new jury facility will ensure that access to justice continues to be provided for the Christchurch community.

“The Ministry of Justice secured the Cambridge Terrace site at the end of last month. A property search for a commercial building was not successful because the jury facility has unique building requirements.

“The option to purpose-design a jury facility using portacoms means the facility could be operational early in the new year. Also, locating the jury facility in close proximity to the police station may bring some operational benefit to both the courts and the police,” Mrs te Heuheu says.

Design specifications for the 600 square metre portacom structure are now being finalised. The design provides for a series of portacoms to be interlocked, creating a perimeter structure with a central area. This central area will then be enclosed to create space for two jury capable courtrooms.

Mrs te Heuheu said a full range of court services are being provided to the Christchurch community from 12 sites, most of which are interim facilities such as Ngā Hau e Whā marae. The exception is jury trials which to date have been relocated to courts including Timaru and Greymouth.

“The new jury facility will mean that significantly fewer trials will have to be transferred out of the area, and that a sustainable solution for meeting future demand is in place for the Christchurch community,” Mrs te Heuheu says.

The Ministry has commissioned both geo-technical and quantitative structural investigations at the main court complex on Durham and Armagh Street. The assessments are expected to be received at the end of October. A date for when the Ministry will be in a position to make further decisions is not yet known, but it is anticipated it will be some weeks after the reports are received.

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