© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2020

Judge threatens to stop using video link

Courtney Winter
Christchurch Court
Christchurch District Court  Antoinette Spicer

District Court judge calls for better access to lawyers for prisoners, rather than relying on video-link for court appearances.

Judge Alistair Garland has threatened to stop using the audio-visual link system at the Christchurch District Court.

He is calling for prisoners to have better access to legal representation.

Judge Garland brought up the issue when George Nehad Said appeared in court via video-link on three charges, including assault with a weapon.

Meetings between lawyers and prisoners are confined to six hours a day, between 9am and 3pm. There are limited faculties that are being booked by other services needing to see prisoners.

Judge Garland said prison access is needed to be improved.

"If that doesn't occur then some members of the judiciary, including myself, will stop using the video-link system... it's not fair," he said.

Judge Garland said the use of video-link in the courts was put in place to make the courts more efficient and speed up the process, "but we have found a constant issue, where lawyers struggle to have access to their clients readily".