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Richie for Rangiora, Page 3
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By RACHEL MACDONALD
A reprieve is better than being hanged --
but we are still on death row.''
Rangiora lawyer John Brandts-Giesen,
reflecting on the future of the town's court
CONTINUED Page 3
THE FUTURE of the Rangiora court
remains uncertain following a Jus-
tice Ministry review last week of 14
district facilities nationwide.
With some of those buildings closing and
some having their services scaled back, only
North Canterbury has been left in limbo as
the ministry tosses up whether Canter-
bury's court services should remain central-
ised in Christchurch -- as they have been
since the Rangiora courthouse was shut
suddenly on November 30, 2011, after being
Prominent North Canterbury lawyer
John Brandts-Giesen said the reprieve was
better than being hanged -- but we are still
on death row''.
Courts Minister Chester Borrows has
pinned the sweeping changes to the district
court system on crime statistics being at a
30-year low, a drop in the number of alleged
offenders appearing before a judge, and the
need to modernise court services.
"With crime falling and the number of
people coming to court decreasing, we are
taking the opportunity to improve how the
63 district courts are administered and to
modernise services so they are more in line
with public expectations,'' he said.
Our small courts are spending more and
more of their time sitting empty and the
Criminal Procedure Act, which comes into
force next July, will remove another 31,000
court events each year.''
He also said that most criminal case files
will be moved onto a new electronic system
from July next year, saving more than
90,000 hours' labour per year.
The result is that from early next year,
nine courts will be used only for hearings,
rather than being open five days a week,
and four will be disestablished.
Rangiora, the catchment criminal court
for North Canterbury, remains a quandary.
The courthouse has a Category II
Historic Places Trust classification and
strengthening the 125-year-old building is
not straightforward,'' Mr Burrows said.
However, the demographics of the Can-
terbury region are changing as a conse-
quence of the 2011 earthquake and we need
to understand how this will affect the
demand for courts in the region.''
The ministry will carry out further engin-
eering assessments of the courthouse and a
more detailed assessment of demand.
It will also consider if there are any suit-
able options for holding hearings locally in
the interim. This work will be completed in
the first half of next year.
Mr Brandts-Giesen said the announce-
ment was welcome.
We hope that common sense will prevail.
Still of concern, though, is the reduction
nationwide of court managers, as
announced by Minister Borrows.
It's a wrap for cadet
SOUTH ISLAND REP: Practising her first aid skills on her brother, Peter, is Rangiora's Sasha
Seatter, the new St John regional cadet of the year.
Story page 2.
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