Criticism of Rangiora District Court closure

March 6, 2014 | By More

Rangiora-sign1Politicians and bureaucrats who decided to close the Rangiora District Court had “got it wrong”, long-serving local lawyer Keith Hales told the court’s final sitting yesterday.

Eleven District Court judges were present for the final sitting at the Christchurch Court House where the court has sat fortnightly since it was decided that the town’s own court house needed major repairs.

Mr Hales, who has worked at Rangiora sessions for 38 years, will soon retire himself. He spoke at the session to say that he believed the changes to the town’s justice system were not necessary and the community would be poorer for it.

“It is a well-run justice facility, and quite frankly the politicians and bureaucrats have got it wrong,” he said.

Mr Hales has long had his own dedicated seat in the lawyers’ benches at the Rangiora Court House. Judge David Saunders reminded him that he had been affectionately known as “Lord Hales of Rangiora”.

Rangiora has had Magistrate’s Court and then District Court sittings since 1864, and the Court House was built in 1893. The brick Court House became Christchurch’s main arrest court for a time after the earthquakes while the city’s main building was out of action.

Mr Hales said court users and stakeholders strongly suspected that the decision to close the Rangiora court was made a long time ago, even though the area’s population had grown rapidly since the earthquakes. The court’s business would now be shifted to “a grander justice facility” that was being built in Christchurch.

He said he did not believe that Rangiora lawyers and users were in favour of the closure. He believed that the police, Ministry of Social Development, Child, Youth, and Family Service, and judges would have opposed it if they were able to speak out about it.

Rangiora lawyer John Brandts-Giesen paid tribute at the session to Mr Hales’ work over many years. He said he had “served the community with distinction, dedication, and with style”. The judges also thanked Mr Hales for his work.

Category: News

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