Lawyers urged to appear for clients at Parole Board hearings

The board has identified a problem with counsel and offenders being at different locations during hearings

Lawyers urged to appear for clients at Parole Board hearings

Lawyers have been urged by the New Zealand Parole Board to take all reasonable efforts to appear with clients during the board’s hearings.

Sir Ron Young, who chairs the board, said in recently released guidelines that being in the same room as offenders will enable lawyers to see and talk to as well as easily receive instructions from clients.

He said that the board understands offenders are regularly transferred between prisons and advises that if a counsel cannot travel, the best solution is to transfer instructions to local counsel.

The board advised that it does not have facilities in Wellington to easily allow counsel to be present and represent an offender via audio-video link. It said that prisons generally have adequate AVL facilities, but if counsel and the offender are at different prisons, “there are real problems of communication.”

If counsel cannot be present at the same location as the offender and if they cannot transfer instructions, lawyers must apply for approval of proposed arrangements at least one week before the hearing, the guidelines said.

The guidelines, including that notices be lodged at least seven days prior to hearings, also apply to individuals wishing to appear before the board to support an offender.

“Where counsel is involved an appropriate application for all who wish to attend should be made to the board if supporters wish to appear other than with the offender in person,” Young wrote.

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