Blair Ensor at Stuff reports:
Finding out someone’s criminal history could soon be as easy as clicking a button, under major changes to improve public access to court documents.
Justice Minister Judith Collins told the Sunday Star-Times the current system, where people often have to apply in writing to the courts for access to information, is “completely insane”.
She wants all decisions online once the courts have completed a move to an electronic operating model next year. The documents would effectively act as a public register of criminals and improve public safety, she said.
It would also make the court process more open.
“If a matter is heard in open court that anyone can attend, why is it the next day they strangely can’t access that information? People have a right to know about what goes on in their courts.”
This would be so great if it happens. Court decisions are a matter of public record in theory, but in practice have been difficult to access. Having all court decisions online will be great for transparency and great for improved public safety.
Collins has an ally in Chief District Court Judge Jan-Marie Doogue who believes it is important the public understand the reasoning behind court decisions.
“We welcome any development which would enable the decisions of the District Court to be available in a timely fashion,” Doogue said.
“This would enable transparency and accountability.”
Well said Judge Doogue.