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Gowns in District Court jury trials welcomed

Gowns in District Court jury trials welcomed

New Zealand Law Society President Jonathan Temm says he welcomes the announcement by the Chief District Court Judge that counsel will be required to wear gowns in jury trials in New Zealand District Courts.

Chief Judge Russell Johnson has issued a Practice Note which says barristers will be required to wear gowns from 28 February 2011.

Mr Temm says the Law Society had sought feedback from lawyers around New Zealand over the issue during 2010.

“While support was not unanimous, a significant majority of the legal profession were in support,” he says.

“I see three major advantages to wearing of gowns in District Court indictable proceedings. It will remind lawyers that they are officers of the Court. It will maintain formality in serious criminal litigation where serious penalties are often imposed. And gowns will also ensure a unformity of standards and demonstrate to the public that legal counsel have obligations and standing in conducting their work.”

Mr Temm says the introduction of gowns in District Court criminal trials also supports a series of initiatives by the Law Society which aimed to improve the minimum standards of performance by lawyers. These include greater experience requirements for lawyers who want to enter practice on their own account, and new developments in competence assurance.

ends


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