Sir John Hansen on PDS

June 3rd, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:

Public Defence Service lawyers have been hissed at and abused by members of the criminal bar, it has emerged.

head Sir John Hansen has hit out at criminal lawyers over “appalling behaviour” towards its members after the Government-funded legal agency was launched.

The defence service is now being expanded by the Government – but continues to face vehement public attacks from within the legal fraternity.

In a strongly worded speech this week, Sir John, a retired high court judge, said the behaviour was seen in Auckland courts, particularly Manukau.

“It was this kind of unprofessionalism from a small proportion of the defence bar that featured so strongly in Dame Margaret Bazley’s review of ,” he said at the opening of the Hamilton PDS. “It is something that I would have thought following that review would have ceased. Sadly it has not.”

 I think it is fair to point out that this is a very small, albeit vocal, minority who behavve so unprofessionally. It is a pity that perhaps NZLS has not been able to take any action at an earlier stage.

Sir John pointed out that “lawyer of choice” was not an option for any charges other than murder before 2001.

I did not know that. So I presume Registrars allocated cases or how did it work?

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64 Responses to “Sir John Hansen on PDS”

  1. queenstfarmer (782 comments) says:

    Earlier this week on TVNZ7 news at 8, they interviewed some Wellington criminal barrister who said that PDS lawyer’s weren’t “real lawyers” and made various other derogatory insinuations. Unprofessionalsim is just one aspect of this sort of carry on.

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  2. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Did they have to pass a real bar exam?

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  3. peterwn (3,271 comments) says:

    This guy whose van rolled into a lake drowning his son has to wait to August to ‘face the music’ despite the way being clear to sentencing from his point of view. IMO this is a disgrace. His lawyer is going to ask for a discharge without conviction which is fair enough, but this would usurp the mandatory disqualification ordained by Parliament. If I were the Judge I would give him the discharge as long as he agrees to surrender his licence for 6 – 9 months.

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  4. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    I find it to be unprofessional. But there are plenty of professions where taking work that undermines others livelihoods would get this treatment and more – you know, scabs, those who cross picket lines etc. I had someone who worked for me in a govt department who was told that she was a scab by some of her colleagues. She was in IT and chose to go on an individual contract instead of taking the 3% or thereabouts her union was getting each year (the union represented line workers as well as IT workers, and seemed to have no idea that IT is actually higher paid than working in a call centre). I was quite amazed, I’d never seen anything like it before. My point being that there are idiots in every profession, and to my mind those idiots are often the union types…..and this is more of the same.

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  5. seanmaitland (500 comments) says:

    I can vouch for this – some of the culprits are well known lawyers. Its also only scratching the surface of dodgy stuff some of the private lawyers at Manakau have engaged in at PDS lawyers.

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  6. Atheist1 (174 comments) says:

    @Murray. There is no such thing in New Zealand. But they would have had to undertake the Professionals Course before being admitted to the bar.

    Most people can see through this childish, abusive behaviour – they are terrified as their gravy train is being taken from them.

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  7. Nookin (3,341 comments) says:

    peterwn
    I agree. I posted on this the other day. I understand that he has yet to be given residency. I hope this does not stand in his way.

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  8. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    So was it a real professionals course Atheist?

    Given the level of professionalism I’d say a few people deserve to lose their gravy train.

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  9. GPT1 (2,121 comments) says:

    Maybe Hansen should start with his own behaviour. The thinly veiled threats that protesting lawyers had contracts “for now” on the news that other night was something out of the 19th century.

    And once again I will ask, as I have tirelessly without answer, were is the gravy train that commentators insist is there?

    I will then remind them, again, that the rates of pay for criminal legal aid are within a few cents of what they were in 1990.

    And then I will ask, again, if they can point to any other profession that is paid 1990 rates and still goes.

    Although, no doubt, the response, as always, will be snide remarks, hearsay and bigotry.

    There is not yet a PDS in Christchurch but the concern from Auckland is that the PDS is over populated with recent graduates who are poorly supervised and making basic errors costing court time and compromising access to adequate advice for the accused.

    Still, whilst Hansen is the government’s henchman running arguments of distraction then the hope of any debate about these changes is around zero.

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  10. GPT1 (2,121 comments) says:

    A committee of lawyers, working for free, oversaw allocation and funding. It now costs something around $20m for the LSA to do the same.

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  11. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    And they did a damn fine job with it. At least the prep time allocations for trial work were realistic, being made by experienced trial lawyers rather than an unqualified beuracrat who had never run a legal case in their life.

    The hissing is newsworthy only because it bags lawyers. It is a small group at Manakau, which is a special case in itself when it comes to standards (of EVERYONE involved in the process, not just the lawyers). It is unacceptable- we remain colleagues and should treat PDS members with courtesy, even when we disagree with them.

    The only exception on that front is to be made for Simon Power…

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  12. alex Masterley (1,517 comments) says:

    I was a member of one of those committees.

    It was a role we took seriously.

    Regretably Manukau is a special case, as it is overloaded, understaffed (in an opperational sense) and is in unsatisfactory premises. I intensely dislike going down there.

    There is almost something to be said for the consultation that is taking place about court re-organisation in Auckland if it can sort out Manukau.

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  13. queenstfarmer (782 comments) says:

    @GPT1, I presume you know full well that there have been a bunch of lawyers who have rorted the old system and been expelled as a result. A small number, but the cost blowout doesn’t lie, and as with many things in this world, the few ruin it for the many.

    And again I ask, if the system pays so badly (“1990 rates”), then why are they so upset about it being reigned in?

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  14. alex Masterley (1,517 comments) says:

    QSF, one of the reasons for the cost blow out was the increase in eligibility for legal aid that occured in 2007/8. And no-one has the guts to look at the Treaty legal aid rort.

    Having said that I agree with you that a few have rorted the system and buggered it up for the rest. I think that is accepted now at least by those who I speak to.

    I’m not sure what you mean by expelled, as the only ones i can think of are 3 recently in auckland who lost their LSA supplier contracts, and one them has only been suspended from practice for a short period of time.

    For me who is now on the sidelines, heckling from time to time, the most amusing thing is the lack of leadership that is being displayed by the NZLS in this shemozzle, as the “legal aid” lawyers and the PDS lawyers are all members.

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  15. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    As alex says, qstreetfarmer, Government changes were a huge part of the cost blowout. As Jonathan Temm writes:
    “Major changes in 2007 increased the number of people eligible for legal aid from 750,000 to 1.2 million. The society questioned this then, pointing out what would happen with legal aid costs. The 61% cost increase in the past three years is not surprising. ”

    “And again I ask, if the system pays so badly (“1990 rates”), then why are they so upset about it being reigned in?”

    Well, it is our jobs that are being taken by a government department, by one thing. It is an area of law that we enjoy, and the major changes to the profession that have been brought about by the low rates (i.e. the growth of the seperate bar in the last 20 years as most law firms got out of legal aid work) is about to be changed again when the work that forced those changes is taken away. But, and more important, we see this is as a retrograde step in taking away the independence of the criminal defence bar and putting it under the control of the government. We do a lot of legal aid work for free because we believe that what we are doing is necessary and we are willing to make less money than our similarly talented civil colleagues to do it. Not all of us are greedy- if that was the case then nobody would be doing criminal work other than those at the very top of the field who only do private work. We also see the hard work we have done to build up a practice taken from us, with accusations of fraud, being leveled against us when most of the increase in costs have been driven by government policy and police practice. And we think this is a bad thing for our clients, who will have no consistency of lawyer and who will simply be statistics to be processed rather than clients to be looked after on a professional level.

    Don’t forget that “in over 90% of criminal legal aid cases, the cost to the taxpayer is less than $650 per case. Even when adding the remaining 10% of high-cost and high-profile cases, the average cost of a criminal legal aid case is $1348 (Legal Services Agency 2010 report). ”

    alex, the Law Society has said many times now that ‘it is not a union’ so it doesn’t see itself having a role in advocating FOR lawyers or working with lawyers to oppose any changes. That attitude is very different from the Law Society of England and Wales, which has taken a leading role in opposing legal aid changes in the UK, even (succesfully) judicially reviewing some of them. The NZLS wants the Criminal Bar Association or the NZ Bar Association to lead any action, so they don’t have to. Apparently because criminal legal aid providers make up less than 9% of the profession, and even with family and civil added in legal aid providers still amount to less than 25% of the profession, they just don’t see it as their responsibility.

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  16. alex Masterley (1,517 comments) says:

    FES,

    What the Law Society thinks it is (or is not) as the case may be, is entirely different from what the profession at large thinks it should be.

    If anything I think the ADLS is doing a better job for it’s members than the NZLS which is compromised because of it’s regulatory role and its representational role.

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  17. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    The more I hear about these changes, the more I think it’s the wrong thing to do. It’s basically nationalising a whole area of commerce. I disagree with that in any other area, I disagree with it here.

    I could maybe accept a market failure argument, if it was a compelling market failure that was clearly unsolvable by any other means, and would clearly actually be solved by this change.

    What I see is an increase in costs that is at least part driven by policy change and other areas of the business (33% more clients doesn’t lead to 61% increase in cost, but it’s a fair part of it, and the Treaty process is another chunk as well).

    I see a public defender model that I’d guess is going to have to replace the blow out in costs with service rationing – I haven’t seen what it is about the government running this that makes the service delivery any cheaper, so presumably the cost savings will come from reduced service – fewer cases processed, or fewer hours spent per case.

    I also see other ways to have fixed this. If the government thought rationing and squeezing level of service was OK, then they could have tendered blocks of cases, or set fixed fees for case types, which would remove the incentive to pad the hours spent.

    I’m also a little sceptical of the whole argument there was a problem at all. The argument seems to be that some (very small number of) lawyers were seeing amazing numbers of clients, and billing a bunch. But isn’t that exactly what the govt wants – lawyers to process more clients in less time? Isn’t the “problem” in fact that some lawyers were too efficient? Maybe the problem is more that the price to govt didn’t go down when they were more efficient – which tendering would fix.

    In short, fixing the wrong problem with the wrong solution, and avoiding dealing with the root causes.

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  18. justinian (21 comments) says:

    Sir John Hansen is right. There was no choice of counsel except in cases of murder. Few lawyers who did legal aid did that work exclusive of “private client” work and did legal aid work out of a sense of duty. The place for money to be made on legal aid in those days was in the Family Court.

    Since 2000 the rules changed and allowed lawyers to derive a living off criminal legal aid to the exclusion of other areas of practice. A good living was there to be made if one did a large volume and processed the work efficiently.

    The PDS now provides a form of competition for legal aid work although the mandatory allocation of a % of the work skews that argument. To those who can’t handle the competition – do something else.

    Do what many did when personal injury litigation went out the door when ACC came in. Diversify. Find another area of law to work in. I fail to see that entitlement comes because one enjoys the work.

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  19. Bob R (1,370 comments) says:

    ***And no-one has the guts to look at the Treaty legal aid rort.***

    Indeed, it’s disgraceful that National haven’t addressed this.

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  20. seanmaitland (500 comments) says:

    PaulL – the problem was a $402 million blowout in legal aid. Letting the status quo go on was not an option. It was thought that there were around 200 lawyers involved, which is not a “very small number”. On the top of that you have douchebags like Chris Comesky falsely billing legal aid at his rates and then giving it to junior staff to handle.

    The root cause was that the existing legal aid system was open to milking – and the PDS is a solution to that, I don’t see how it is avoiding it????

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  21. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    alex, I am interested in your views on the ADLS. Not being in that area, I haven’t kept up to date on the ongoing saga vis ADLS/NZLS. I am hugely disillusioned by the NZLS, and have been for several years now. I find the NZ Bar Association to be a far better professional organisation.

    Justinian, the complaint is that the government drove these changes in the profession. Many years ago lawyers who did criminal legal aid were generally part of a firm that did allow them to specialise. Over the past 20 years, as pay rates have stagnated, the firms have withdrawn from legal aid provision en masse and the practitioners who have wanted to remain criminal lawyers have become barristers. That is a good thing, actually, as I firmly believe we should be encouraging more barristers- indeed, I think a separation of the professions is a wonderful idea. I digress, as the work increased and the number of providers decreased or stagnated (depending on the year) then the workload for those providing criminal legal aid increased quite dramatically. Again, this is all government policy driven. These are not ‘expectations’ of the profession, but rather a reaction to government policy.

    So we are not being unreasonable at all. Also, almost none of us to solely legal aid work. All of the barristers I know undertake private criminal work, but the fact remains that there isn’t the volume of private criminal work in NZ that there is overseas, partly because the country isn’t wealthy enough for the average person to afford to pay privately and, following on from that, there is no recovery of costs if a privately funded defence is successful. Most clients, even those who I suspect have the means to pay, are desperate to get on legal aid. That always disappoints me, when a client I thought was going to be private gets legal aid, but there is nothing I can do about and I must treat them exactly the same as if they were private. And I do treat them exactly the same.

    “Since 2000 the rules changed and allowed lawyers to derive a living off criminal legal aid to the exclusion of other areas of practice. A good living was there to be made if one did a large volume and processed the work efficiently.”

    Don’t forget that we also had to build a client base, as many of our clients are repeats and if they liked the work we did then they would ask for us again. That is not to say we encourage crime, just that the crims seem to offend regularly. Anyway, by being good lawyers for our clients we would get repeat business as well as word of mouth recommendations. I got a lot of my clients that way. Now those clients are assigned randomly there is no reason to try to build a good lawyer/client relationship, you just get the work done and move on. Those legal aid lawyers who earned the big dollars were the really good ones, those who were able to build a good client base and who looked after their legally aided clients the same as their private ones.

    “The PDS now provides a form of competition for legal aid work although the mandatory allocation of a % of the work skews that argument.”

    Very much so, especially when the government was looking at putting up to 75% to the PDS.

    “To those who can’t handle the competition – do something else.”

    Many of are already making those plans to move on, which is a huge loss of collective experience to the criminal justice system.

    EDIT: seanmaitland:”It was thought that there were around 200 lawyers involved,”

    That was a guess by Dame Margaret at the press conference. There is no evidence of the number, not even anecdotally, and no research was done into it. She basically plucked a number out of the air. Her report said it was a small but significant number.

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  22. reid (16,442 comments) says:

    the rates of pay for criminal legal aid are within a few cents of what they were in 1990.

    And then I will ask, again, if they can point to any other profession that is paid 1990 rates and still goes.

    Would a self-employed lawyer working on legal aid with the odd private client here and there, make say $150k p.a. or would it be more or would it be less, for the average such lawyer?

    …the Treaty legal aid rort.

    Annette Sykes’ Rotorua firm is I believe the largest recipient of legal aid in that city. Isn’t that peculiar. I wonder why?

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  23. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    and that $402 million blowout was overall legal aid, family, civil, criminal and treaty, but the only part being changed is criminal law. The biggest earners are the Treaty lawyers.

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  24. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    “Would a self-employed lawyer working on legal aid with the odd private client here and there, make say $150k p.a. or would it be more or would it be less, for the average such lawyer?”

    Both. Under the old regime it depended on the size of your client base, which meant those good lawyers who looked after their clients earned more. Also, a number of the legal aid earners do both family and criminal, so their earnings are mixed in that respect.

    But some legal aid lawyers that you describe would struggle to earn $50,000 a year, while others could earn $200,000 or $300,000 plus. But it wasn’t a lottery.

    That has changed now, with random assignment affecting 90% of the cases, so the chances of high income only applies to those doing murders, meth trials and so on.

    EDIT: Seanmaitland: wasn’t it an EXPECTED blowout of $400 million, rather than an ACTUAL blowout of that amount? Could you please show me the figures? cheers.

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  25. quirky_username (22 comments) says:

    Queenstfarmer says “And again I ask, if the system pays so badly (“1990 rates”), then why are they so upset about it being reigned in?”

    This is not an argument that is about the money, if it were about the money, lawyers wouldn’t do legal aid work in the first place. The big issue as I see it is the importance of the independent bar, which the PDS scheme has the potential to destroy. With PDS the state is both the prosecutor and the defender – a clear conflict of interest. Criminal lawyers play an incredibly important role in providing checks and balances on the power of the prosecution services and judiciary, thereby ensuring justice prevails.

    With respect to the issue of counsel of choice, the argument often heard is that with counsel of choice, the PDS would not have any clients. One has to then wonder, if the defendants don’t want them to act for them, and their costs per case are higher than the Independent bar, what the reason for nationalising the defence bar is.

    With a disciplinary process and regular audits, a competitive market seems to me to be the most sensible mechanism (and I must say I am surprised that a “right wing” government seems to favour nationalising a service over free market!). The element of competition ensures that high standards are maintained – those who are good at their job get a good reputation and therefore have more clients. The current system whereby each case is allocated – x% to PDS and the remainder on a rotational basis to the rest of the bar does not allow defendants consistency of representation (for example, a person falsely accused with assaulting their partner would have different lawyers for the family court and criminal proceedings which in turn leads to a huge double-up in the work to be carried out), and does not allow choice based on reputation or experience.

    Another issue I see with this is that legal aid must be repaid and if a client is paying for the service themselves (albeit essentially by way of a government loan), they are still told they have no choice. Imagine being told that given the government subsidises doctors visits, that even though you have had the same doctor for the past 10 years, you are now having to see which ever doctor you are told to go to on a rotational basis, which 50% of the time will be at the public hospital.

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  26. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    “With a disciplinary process and regular audits”

    I know a senior lawyer who has done has done numerious (random) audits of lawyers files on behalf of the LSA. His comment? The government gets very good service for the money it pays.

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  27. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    seanmaitland:

    the problem was a $402 million blowout in legal aid. Letting the status quo go on was not an option

    And how much of that was in criminal law? How much of that was through more service (i.e. policy change that increased the number of people eligible by 33%), and how much through changes to the court system that made each case take longer? Yes, there’s a blowout in legal aid. It doesn’t follow that the problem is driven by the arrangements for paying a small part of that budget.

    It was thought that there were around 200 lawyers involved, which is not a “very small number”.

    Well, it perhaps is. But “it was thought” isn’t exactly evidence.

    On the top of that you have douchebags like Chris Comesky falsely billing legal aid at his rates and then giving it to junior staff to handle.

    Seems to me that a) he should have been procecuted if that’s illegal, b) if it’s not illegal then it should be, and c) you need a little bit of supervision in any system – blindly paying bills that anyone submits (private or public sector) is pretty much a recipe for going bankrupt.

    The root cause was that the existing legal aid system was open to milking – and the PDS is a solution to that, I don’t see how it is avoiding it????

    The root cause is that the government was choosing to run an open ended system that promised service to an unlimited amount of people, and a fixed hourly rate to those servicing them. It did nothing to manage the number of hours per client, or to manage the number of clients.

    The PDS doesn’t really deal with that, it ducks it by nationalising the problem. But the existence of the PDS doesn’t change the fact that the govt increased eligiblity, and it doesn’t change the number of hours worked. If the problem was an agency problem – you can’t trust someone who doesn’t work for the govt – then arguably it might solve that (although even there I reckon it doesn’t). But I don’t see much evidence that the problem is an agency problem.

    The problem is a broken structure, and no real analysis of why there are more people needing service, and why service is taking longer. Solutions might be to go to judge only trials, for example. Or change the court system so that instead of only valuing the time of judges, it values the time of other participants in the process. Or change the payment arrangements so that the lawyers are block funded, rather than paid for how many hours they can waste. PDS fixes none of this.

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  28. alex Masterley (1,517 comments) says:

    FES,

    My views on ADLS v NZLS are historical and are coloured by my, modest, involvement in the fun and games of 2008.

    While i understand that diversification of ones practice may be the best way forwar The only problem i have with that is the work available in other areas of practice is much diminished.

    The slow property market and the removal of depreciation from buildings has had a negative effect on the family trust/LAQC industry for example

    A number of lawyers are being forced to rationalise and reduce staff to stay afloat.

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  29. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    “It did nothing to manage the number of hours per client”

    No, that is incorrect. There is a very strong management of the number of hours per client. You can find them on the LSA website.

    Summary jurisdiction:
    http://www.lsa.govt.nz/lawyers/documents/Summary_Jurisdiction_Version_4_27_September_2010_.pdf

    Indictable jurisdiction:
    http://www.lsa.govt.nz/lawyers/documents/IndictableJurisdictionJune09.pdf

    Rates of remuneration (GST inclusive):
    http://www.lsa.govt.nz/lawyers/documents/Criminal_Overview_and_rates_and_fees_Sept10.pdf

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  30. justinian (21 comments) says:

    In general response the largely correct response from FE Smith (Lord Birkenhead)
    I agree with much of what you say and which is true of many category 3 and 4 legal aid providers.
    The problems came in at the lower levels and much of it dervied from the (then) ability of a recently admitted lawyer being able to set up as a barrister with little experience and less training.
    You may find in the “provinces” that the model that pertained years ago is still present – very few lawyers making a living off criminal legal aid.
    As for the PDS – I have observed the development of that office as a pilot under Mike Corry and Eddie Paul. The office then and now provided a comprehensive training program for lawyers who maintain consistently high standards of representation. All of the PDS lawyers I have seen are highly competent, professional and well prepared. They don’t deserve to be “bagged” they way that they have been and continue to be.
    As for 75% of legal aid work heading their way – forget it. That is propaganda put about has no substance.
    I gather that you are a member of the criminal bar and I can understand your concerns. But there are other fields of law as you recognise. I am sure that legal aid briefs will still come your way.
    I see that Manukau is mentioned in other posts. It is perhaps unfortunate that part of the legal environment had to be singled out as an example by Dame Margaret and seems to have formed the basis for a number of decisions that have since been made

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  31. GPT1 (2,121 comments) says:

    @GPT1, I presume you know full well that there have been a bunch of lawyers who have rorted the old system and been expelled as a result. A small number, but the cost blowout doesn’t lie, and as with many things in this world, the few ruin it for the many.

    And again I ask, if the system pays so badly (“1990 rates”), then why are they so upset about it being reigned in?

    I am aware of some examples and I fully support any and all action taken against them. By your logic you would no longer fund police because of isolated examples of corruption.

    The cost “blow out” is because there is greater eligibility, more complicated trials (experts/length), more emphasis no DV (family court) and goodness only knows what Treaty Legal aid is costing.

    I do not get your last point. You are suggesting that because rates are already miserable no one should care that they are about to be made redundant?

    I would also make the point that some of the systemic problems can be traced to the continued underfunding – firms are generally out of it (so no structure for training), overheads have been reduced to try and make it economic and some barristers are able to do that.

    Ask yourself what kind of police force you would have if they were funded as if it was 1990?

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  32. GPT1 (2,121 comments) says:

    Would a self-employed lawyer working on legal aid with the odd private client here and there, make say $150k p.a. or would it be more or would it be less, for the average such lawyer?
    It would generally be less. A turnover of $150k would not be unheard of in a good year but take into account costs etc and it soon goes. Plus that would include $xk of expert witness costs.

    A Junior (2-4 years) might be making $40-$50k, intermediate (4-8) $50-70k. If you are good, with a good client base (now gone because of preferred lawyer) you might clear $100k in a year. In a civil or commercial area you could double if not triple that figure.

    What’s a probationary constable start on these days? Mid $40k?

    Above someone made the point about diversification. Many of us do but there is only so much law you can do well. Jack of all trades master of none.

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  33. GPT1 (2,121 comments) says:

    The biggest earners are the Treaty lawyers.
    Come now FES, I am sure that Kensington Swan just do Treaty legal aid as they are public spirited?

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  34. GPT1 (2,121 comments) says:

    The problem is a broken structure, and no real analysis of why there are more people needing service, and why service is taking longer. Solutions might be to go to judge only trials, for example. Or change the court system so that instead of only valuing the time of judges, it values the time of other participants in the process. Or change the payment arrangements so that the lawyers are block funded, rather than paid for how many hours they can waste. PDS fixes none of this.

    Good point there about only valuing Judge time. The MOJ is obssessed with saving Judge time forgetting that judges actually get things done. You put a system in that has a punter spending months after first appearance without seeing a Judge then human nature takes its course and they put off a plea.

    Prosecutorial delays are ignored. Defence are often blamed for delays but the blame, at least, is shared equally. Disclosure is slow (and continuing up to trial). In many cases police could not take the prosecution at the time of charging.

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  35. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    More than that too GPT1. I remember seeing stuff where they schedule everyone to come in first thing in the morning, or first thing in the afternoon. Even though clearly the judge doesn’t see every case then. Because it’s hard to decide how long cases might take, so they fill the pipeline. But that means that other people in the process sit around waiting to make sure there’s a backlog on hand for the judge. Little stuff like that, but 15 minutes waiting on each court hearing adds up to extra cost over time. Can’t recall if that was in an NZ criminal context, so don’t take that as gospel, but it’s an example of the kind of things we often do – because judges are the most important people in the system.

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  36. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    “Come now FES, I am sure that Kensington Swan just do Treaty legal aid as they are public spirited?”

    :)

    PaulL, you can spend your entire day waiting for a fixture and not be called. Most courts schedule about 15 – 18 hours of hearing time for a 5 1/2 hour day. The reason, quite rightly, is that you never know what is going to happen. Cases often don’t proceed because clients don’t turn up, witnesses don’t turn up, police officers don’t turn up, or the client decides to plead guilty when they have told you they are innocent all along, or the police want to spring a new witness on you at the last minute, or all sorts of other reasons.

    Sometimes the police turn up and say they will accept a plea to a lesser charge (which you probably suggested long ago) or the judge gives a good sentence indication (this being the first time that particular judge has seen the case).

    Sometimes you turn up and after all of the above the callover gets rid of the entire days work in 30 minutes. Other times you sit there and discover that you are 5th in importance and have no chance of getting on. Or, worse, you have a slim chance of getting on, so the judge wants you back at 11.30, then 2.15, then 3.30, just in case.

    Other times the first or second case off the rank takes the rest of the day, way longer than estimated, and everyone else gets sent away after lunch.

    You just never know. The Court controls the lot, and even if you have done your job and given as much notice as possible, there is no guarantee that the Police or the Court will have seen your memorandum or letter. And often the cops don’t tell you that they cannot proceed, hoping that your client might plead guilty instead, despite the fact that they have known for 3 weeks that they couldn’t go ahead and were planning to withdraw the charge (that one got me very angry, that did as it was a private case and the judge wouldn’t award costs for the wasted preparation time that I had to bill my client for).

    Or going to Court at 2.15 for a guilty plea sentencing, waiting around in Court to be called, being called at 4.30 and being done by 4.35. For which you are paid a flat fee of $220, which when you add the 2 hrs 20 mins to the couple or three hours you have already done means you have made quite a significant loss on the case.

    Yep, it is all about waiting, and apparently these delays are caused by the lawyers wanting to get more money!!!

    Justinian:

    “The problems came in at the lower levels and much of it dervied from the (then) ability of a recently admitted lawyer being able to set up as a barrister with little experience and less training.”

    Well aware of it, mate, and that is why I think enforcing a chambers situation and pupillage is a good idea.

    “As for 75% of legal aid work heading their way – forget it. That is propaganda put about has no substance.”

    Not from what I hear!

    “I see that Manukau is mentioned in other posts. It is perhaps unfortunate that part of the legal environment had to be singled out as an example by Dame Margaret and seems to have formed the basis for a number of decisions that have since been made”

    Very true. But try “all of the decisions” rather than just “a number”.

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  37. Johnboy (16,516 comments) says:

    Nice to see FESter and his bootlicker GPT1 (the really upmarket benefit bludgers team) doing their very best impression of a glorious rearguard action to protect their patch against the evil depredations of Simon Power and Sir John Hansen.

    Keep up the good work chaps. We are all enjoying watching you defend the indefensible. :)

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  38. GPT1 (2,121 comments) says:

    Sometimes the police turn up and say they will accept a plea to a lesser charge (which you probably suggested long ago) or the judge gives a good sentence indication (this being the first time that particular judge has seen the case).

    Oh this drives me mad. I would have to say that a number of OCs are ameniable to sensible suggestions early on but there is a significant number who will run it to the last minute. Even worse than not taking a plea to a more appopriate alternative – as per SG Guidelines – is when you turn up ready to go and they pull something was never going to work (I don’t include DV witness non appearances in that gripe).

    As an aside Power thinks that if defence have to announce their tactics early this will save time. I have done that – right down to the relevant case law that shows EVEN ON POLICE EVIDENCE there is no crime yet they take it. And not until Judge says at half time; “um, Mr Prosecutor isn’t it traditional to disclose an alleged crime somewhere in the police case?” that it is pulled.

    And the flat fee for a plea when you have to be there all day is bloody irritating. Usually I find that if it is a quick one then you get called straight AFTER the afternoon adjournment…

    But FES I thought all these delays are solely the fault of defence lawyers?

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  39. GPT1 (2,121 comments) says:

    Ah I see Johnboy’s decided to drop in and attempt to chat with the adults again.

    Bludgers tonight is it? So in his world if you get paid for your services, even at around 1/3rd of market rates, you are a bludger.

    Logic similar to those clients who insist that the assault was the victim’s fault for winding them up.

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  40. Johnboy (16,516 comments) says:

    Well old chap it is fairly obvious from the strenuous defence you guys are putting up to Simons reforms that you have all been doing rather well out of legal aid, which is after all just an extension of the welfare state, and targeted to members of the legal profession. It is also painfully obvious that you are all shitting bricks about it being reduced/removed.

    Upmarket dole really. :)

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  41. Johnboy (16,516 comments) says:

    As for chatting to the adults GPT1 it seems obvious to me that you are merely a bootlicker of FESter’s.

    You will make a fine shoeshine boy when you come of age.

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  42. Johnboy (16,516 comments) says:

    FESter doesn’t want to play tonight GPT1. I realise you are lost without him. There will always be another day. :)

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  43. GPT1 (2,121 comments) says:

    So in Johnboy’s world if you argue strenuously using evidence then you must be wrong.

    You are damn right we are concerned about the end of the independent bar. But in your world rights to an adequate defence seems to be irrelevant.

    And even if you put aside such things as the rule of law and right’s to a defence would you not fight to defend your livelihood?

    Is it your complete lack of logic and evidence or both that makes you resort to personal attack or are you just a naturally nasty person?

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  44. GPT1 (2,121 comments) says:

    FESter doesn’t want to play tonight GPT1. I realise you are lost without him. There will always be another day.
    We take turns troll baiting. Yes, you are that important.

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  45. Johnboy (16,516 comments) says:

    “”There were a minority of individuals who behaved disgracefully and conducted themselves with overt hissing and derogatory and denigratory remarks. ”

    Must have been you and FESter he was talking about GPT1. :)

    “would you not fight to defend your livelihood? ”

    Should have read. “Would you not fight to defend your awfully comfy and vastly overpaid livelihood? ”

    Other than that I agree with you GPT1, even though you are a prat. :)

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  46. Johnboy (16,516 comments) says:

    You couldn’t bait a rat trap GPT1 even if someone else cut the cheese for you. :) :) :)

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  47. Johnboy (16,516 comments) says:

    Tell you what GPT1. Why don’t you and that sad little prick who likens himself to the great Lord Birkenhead (spinning in his grave I should think) come out of the closet and give us your real names and then we can check out what you both screwed out of the legal aid system?

    Failing that the pair of you could just fuck off and get a real lawyers job that suits your skills, doing conveyancing or something. :) :)

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  48. GPT1 (2,121 comments) says:

    Johnboy why do you continue to be so abusive? Is it so difficult to hold a debate with grown ups that you must resort to lies and abuse?

    Out of interest, in your sad little world, what do you think is the amount you should earn a year for a “awfully comfy and vastly overpaid livelihood”?

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  49. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    Johnboy,

    “that sad little prick who likens himself to the great Lord Birkenhead (spinning in his grave I should think)”

    It is out of admiration for the 1st Earl of Birkenhead, one of the greatest courtroom advocates to walk the earth (and not to shabby a judge, either), that I use the name F E Smith. If I am ever half the advocate he was then I shall be happy.

    You, on the other had are simply obnoxious. I have seen what you have been posting on this thread (continously and without need for response, which says it is malice and not debate) and other threads, and I have formed the opinion that your comments are without merit and not worth responding to.

    Indeed, I have only responded to your ranting to clear up the point about my username.

    Henceforth, I shall ignore you, you sad person.

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  50. Johnboy (16,516 comments) says:

    What a puerile bunch of little tossers you great (in your own minds) men of law are.

    It is quite obvious that your only consideration is the income you can screw out of a stupid system that rewards utter nonentities such as yourselves a handsome reward that can be fiddled to your advantage.

    Thank God for the wise words of Sir John who has exposed you pathetic little bunch of greedies.

    He is dead right when he mentions the hissing and spitting.

    I guess he checks Kiwiblog too. :)

    FESter. You will never even be one tenth the advocate Lord Birkenhead was, unless you are of course advocating on your own behalf re: your income.

    In that case I suspect you will outdo the great man by a factor of at least 100. :)

    Go Simon Power! :)

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  51. Johnboy (16,516 comments) says:

    Anyway. Whats your real names boys?

    I’m John Boy Walton.

    I really would like to see what you two shysters conned out of the public purse in Legal Aid. :)

    Legal aid = Welfare for greedy Lawyers. ( sort of like the dole really).

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  52. Johnboy (16,516 comments) says:

    Ah. Too gutless to come back eh. Typical of your breed.

    GPT1 has always struck me as a little boot licker but you FESter after likening yourself to Lord Birkenhead have always given me hope that you were in fact a man of honour.

    It would appear I am sadly mistaken.

    You are just another slimy little bludger that makes your living out of other peoples misery and up until now have been able to claim a comfy living from the long suffering public.

    Get a real job asshole. :)

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  53. GPT1 (2,121 comments) says:

    I see we’re down to a comfy living now Johnboy rather than an “awfully comfy one”.

    So tell me what should someone be paid for 50-60 hours a week as a defence counsel?

    Or is your reference to ‘get a real job’ confirmation that you do not think anyone should get a defence?

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  54. Johnboy (16,516 comments) says:

    What did you earn for your 50 – 60 hours GPT1?

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  55. Johnboy (16,516 comments) says:

    Gone quiet have we GPT1?

    Don’t want to scare the peasants perhaps? :)

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  56. Johnboy (16,516 comments) says:

    Hope it’s more than say $13/hour.

    Should be. You really deserve more than that cause you are a Lawyer.

    Even if you are an incompetent prick. :)

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  57. Johnboy (16,516 comments) says:

    Wonder where the great Lord Birkenhead has gone?

    Grouse shooting at Balmoral perhaps! :)

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  58. GPT1 (2,121 comments) says:

    You the one saying we are all over paid so how much do you think it is worth? It’s a simple question.

    Surprisingly my budget is not your concern or business.

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  59. Johnboy (16,516 comments) says:

    Too embarrassed to tell us peasants what you screwed out of the system then GPT1?

    Are you really a Lawyer?

    You seem to me to be so inept at argument that I would have to seriously consider if I wanted such as you to defend my next parking infringement notice.

    ps; Are you a graduate of Victoria? :)

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  60. Johnboy (16,516 comments) says:

    Where the fuck is Lord Birkenhead when you poor legal flounderers need him so dearly? :)

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  61. Johnboy (16,516 comments) says:

    ps: It should be “You are the one—–” idiot. :)

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  62. Johnboy (16,516 comments) says:

    Lord Birkenhead has obviously chickened out then.

    Can’t match his enormous brain with a poor sheep herder from Wainui eh?

    GPT1. You should just fuck off, you are well out of your league here. :)

    Whatever you actually earn hardly matters, it isn’t enough. :)

    Off to the scratcher Guys. What a sad bunch you all are.

    Give Lawyers a bad name really. If that’s possible. :)

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  63. GPT1 (2,121 comments) says:

    Big Saturday night socialising there Johnboy. Although you are right, it is not enough.

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  64. b proactive (2 comments) says:

    PDS staff should practice what they preach and look in their own back yard how they speak to and about people.

    Thankfully there are some good people in society whom have the courtesy to report unprofessional conduct and badmouthing around the Court system which staff whom are employed within Public Defense Services have been equally as guilty of doing themselves.

    Walls have ears.

    For those whom are unaware there was a notice up next to the office where people before the Auckland Courts go to seek assistance including for Legal aid, in 2004, that specifically stated that PDS would be aiming to take on 30% of all cases at that time.

    We are aware that staff whom, at the time, were working at Mental Health Services that promoted the use of PDS over and above other lawyers.

    We are aware Michael Corry brags that he is “the best in the business” – pity he isn’t.

    He is known to “put down people who are disadvantaged or more knowledgeable about rarely used Laws”.

    He and doesn’t bother to get to know his clients and their circumstances.

    He is known to bully his way into a court room to get cases that PDS are representing clients heard first so without having regard for the Court List order or the fact that other people are also on time constraints.

    If that is Professionalism and what NZ wants we are heading for challenging times ahead in our Legal System.

    Good on those for speaking out.

    PDS is unprofessional and despite what they say about there conviction rates, they should be ensuring the best outcome for there clients and society in general.

    Assumptions are not fact.

    A search pf Companies office website shows some “curious” listings of Amit Malik and suggest he is a Company Director/ shareholder as well as a PDS lawyer.

    Is that permittable for a Crown Lawyer?

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