What do I do? I undertake research and provide advice on: court systems, judicial practice, justice policy, the collection and use of legal data as well as legislation and case law. I also write legal articles for the media and sometimes appear on the telly as a legal commentator.
What can I do for you? I can research anything legal that you need to know and present the findings in a user friendly format. I've written reports, operational protocols, training material, guidelines, articles, speeches, media releases, website content, social media content, plus lots other stuff. You name it and I can create it.
Credentials? I've got a Master of Laws and have been admitted to the New Zealand bar. My main specialties are family and criminal law, the operation of family and criminal courts as well as the judiciary. I've previously worked for the Principal Family Court Judge of New Zealand, Chief Victims Advisor to Government, Ministry of Justice, Victoria University as well as clients in the commercial sector. Check out my LinkedIn profile for more details.
Where am I? Currently based in Auckland, New Zealand, although I can work for you remotely if you're elsewhere in New Zealand or overseas.
The issue: Family violence is prevalent in New Zealand and we have one of the highest rates in the OECD. Families affected by violence are often involved in multiple court proceedings over the space of several months or years and have to appear before multiple judges in multiple courts. These courts include the District Court for criminal proceedings and the Family Court for civil proceedings. Some families may also have younger family members involved in criminal proceedings in the Youth Court.
The project: I explored whether it would be better for families if all their inter-related court proceedings were heard in one court before one judge. This already happens in New York so I flew over there to interview judges, lawyers and court staff to learn how their integrated family violence court system works. I also observed proceedings at various court locations throughout New York and visited a pilot integrated court in Toronto, Canada.
Back in New Zealand I wrote a discussion paper which compared New Zealand's current court system with the integrated court system in New York and Toronto. I concluded that we should introduce an integrated court system in New Zealand because it provides a much better court process for families affected by violence and may also help break the cycle of intergenerational violence. I then developed an integrated family violence court operating model which has several enhancements and is customised to the New Zealand context.
The discussion paper was published and I was keen to get feedback so I invited government and non-government agencies with an interest in our current court system to make submissions. All submissions were then provided to the Ministry of Justice which will ultimately decide whether this type of court system should be introduced in New Zealand.
Funding for this research was generously provided by the New Zealand Law Foundation under a partnership agreement with the Ministry of Justice. Generous logistical support for the research was also provided by the Victoria University Faculty of Law.