​Decision making and decision makers in sexual offence trials

Author(s) Finn, Jeremy
Title Decision making and decision makers in sexual offence trials: options for specialist sexual offence courts, tribunals of fact and the giving of reasons
Source Canterbury Law Review; 2011; Volume 17; p 96-119
Date 2011
Document type Journal article
Coverage New Zealand
Summary In this article the author explores options for developing a sexual assault court in New Zealand. The first part of the paper discusses the experience of other jurisdictions, including South Africa with more than 60 specialist courts for sexual assault cases; Victoria where there are special lists rather than specialist courts; and England where judges can be specially 'ticketed' to hear sexual assault cases. The suggested features of a specialist court are presented, such as the court being located in a safe environment; specialist staff, including judicial officers, prosecutors and support staff; special case management processes; and the ability to hear cases involving multiple offences. The author further explores in depth the possibilities of using lay participation, judge-only trials, juries and multi-judge panels. The defendant's rights and the constraints of existing legislation are also discussed in relation to the mode of trials. The author concludes by suggesting that experience from other countries has shown the need for adequate resources to be provided to ensure effective reform.
Keywords Criminal justice system; specialist courts; jury; judge-only; lay participation; New Zealand
Topic Criminal Justice System; Sexual assault