Jury trials in Auckland are suspended for the rest of October following the uncertainty around the city's alert level restrictions, the Chief Justice has announced.
Auckland remains at Alert Level 3 with some revised restrictions. The country's alert levels will be reviewed by Cabinet on Monday.
Its suspension is expected to provide some certainty for jurors, court participants and the profession as jury trials cannot proceed under the current alert level, according to the operating protocols for the District Court and High Court.
Jurors who are summoned to attend court in the Manukau District Court, Auckland District Court and the Auckland High Court during the month of October have been excused from attending, Chief Justice Helen Winkelmann said in a statement.
In addition, no new jury trials may commence in Waikato and Northland while the two regions remain under strict Level 3 restrictions. However, courts may operate remotely “as local conditions and capacity allow”, the Chief Justice said.
Jury trials in Northland and Waikato will be permitted should the two regions move to Alert Level 2 from Monday.
“However, judges will decide on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the individual circumstances of the case, whether the jury trial should proceed this week,” she said.
“Court staff will contact participants, including jurors, in these instances.”
Meanwhile, travel for court hearings across the Level 3 boundary will proceed only if the presiding judge determines that it is in the public interest to do so, she said.
“Any counsel or person who believes they need to travel across the boundary for court purposes should seek the direction of the presiding judge. Travel will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the presiding judge.”
The Ministry of Justice will provide detailed advice on the health and safety arrangements for those who are required to cross alert level boundaries to attend court.
Media have been asked to attend court remotely under Alert Level 3 guidelines.
Operating protocols for all courts are available on the Courts of New Zealand website.