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Jeremy Bioletti Criminal Lawyer Auckland New Zealand

The simple  truth is that the vast majority of serious criminal cases are dealt with by lawyers acting on legal aid. New Zealand previously had an extensive network of competent criminal trial lawyers dealing with these cases in the indictable jurisdiction of the District and High Courts. Recent so called reforms at the behest of bean counters in the Treasury have resulted in the extinction of that particular network and the expertise within it. In order to create a state monopoly it was necessary to remove counsel of choice for all criminal defendants who qualify for legal aid. This was necessary because without the state funnelling cases to the state defenders service that entity would not be able to get off the ground. Judges, prosecutors and court staff stood silently by as all this occurred. Unfortunate reality is that the collateral damage of the reforms to those parts of the past system which were working well means that the state defence service will now have to take over 100% of criminal defendants on legal aid as the infrastructure of the private providers has now been destroyed. This is because there will simply not be enough work for individual providers to enable the infrastructure of private practises to be sustained. This is of course all extremely unfortunate for people appearing in court who genuinely cannot afford to represent themselves as it will take some time for the public system to take over all representation at the level of competence that previously existed. There are many young and relatively inexperienced lawyers in the state defence system and many are promoted to serious crime without the experience required to deal with the clients and the legal issues that arise. The Judiciary will shortly find themselves more actively involved ensuring unrepresented defendants are not disadvantaged to the point where the proceeding would be regarded as a miscarriage of justice. Recent instances of what I consider to be disasters waiting to happen include a person charged with a major fraud on the Inland Revenue (1.16 MILLION DOLLARS) advised after a week of representation to plead guilty. The discovery was extensive and could not possibly have been considered in that short space of time. Of course from my point of view this all leads to one inescapable conclusion. Find some money and hire yourself a good private criminal lawyer. It could be the best money you ever spend. The legal aid system is finished and will not resurface until things become so dire that the inevitable cycle of change occurs.


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