50,000 court proceedings affected by COVID-19

By Bronson Perich, Tapatahi

When Judge Taumaunu was made the first Māori Chief District Court Judge last year, he knew that he had a huge task on his hands. What he didn’t know was that he would be steering our court system through a global pandemic. Judge Taumaunu explained the extent of the problems.

“Even in the two world wars, the courts weren’t disrupted in this way,” Judge Taumaunu says.

To ensure that justice could be served through COVID-19, Judge Taumaunu has made the following priorities. Those in police custody and prison waiting for a judge were top priority.

An equally important priority were those who were immediate danger.

“Where people are at risk, particularly children those sorts of applications are being heard by the court,” Judge Taumaunu says.

He also said that those cases regarding mental health issues were made priority as well. The challenge remains for the District Courts to provide justice for those who seek it. The Chief District Court Justice said that they are working on being able to provide hearings in the most hygienic way possible.