Lay judicial officers

The resources in this section have been developed specifically for lay judicial officers. They are designed to be worked through individually, informally in small groups or facilitated in a formal training session.  If you wish to arrange support to tailor the rersources to your particular jurisdiction or for support to facilitate training sessions using the resources, please contact us.

See also the resources in the Judges section, which cover a range of topics relevant to lay judicial officers.

 

This training module covers what it is to be a judicial officer: What the judicial oath means and the 'dos and don'ts' of the role.

The module is best worked through with others, in order and over a series of sessions.  The resources have been designed to be completed in a lunch hour or short evening session. But you can also dip into any of the resources by yourself at any time. Discussion questions will help you to tease out the specific issues you might encounter and what to do about them as you go.

Some judicial oaths don't include the specific wording we have followed but many do. The module covers universal principles for judicial officers in democratic common law countries and the principles are important even if your judicial oath doesn't mention them specifically. There are likely to be different issues that arise in your country. If you have questions about any of the content, please discuss with your colleagues and head of bench.

A lot has been written about the judicial role and we encourage you to search for other resources. 

 

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module, participants will:

  • Better understand the requirements of the judicial role in terms of independence, impartiality, transparency, diligence and ethical conduct, both on the bench and in their personal lives
  • Build their ability to assess professional and personal risks and benefits of various actions, interactions and involvement in activities, both in court and in their personal lives
  • Gain more insight into the personal challenges facing judicial officers, their colleagues and their families, and how best to manage these challenges
  • Understand the concepts of bias and conflict of interest in the judicial context and be able to identify situations that might constitute actual or perceived bias or conflicts of interest
  • Make sound decisions as to whether or not it is appropriate to preside over cases where there might be an actual or perceived bias or conflict of interest, and what to do about that
  • Appreciate the diversity of the community and access to justice issues that result, and understand that treating all people the same results in inequitable outcomes
  • Have an awareness of resources available for guidance if required.

This video features experienced judicial officer, Sir David Carruthers, formerly New Zealand’s Chief District Court Judge and Principal Youth Court Judge, discussing what's required of a judicial officer in their conduct on and off the bench. A short biography can be found here.

This video provides a discussion of universal principles for judicial officers around the world and from Sir David’s experiences.  There are likely to be different issues that arise in your country and in your own jurisdiction.  You can watch and consider it on your own at any time, but we encourage you to watch it with your colleagues and head of bench and to consider and discuss what is covered in the video and how it relates to your own experiences.  

Judicial conduct: On the bench, around the court and in your personal life

Video presentation on judicial conduct
This module discusses what judicial conduct means and how this must be maintained in and out of court.
Duration: 12min

This video features experienced judicial officer, New Zealand's Deputy Chief Coroner Anna Tutton, discussing conflict of interest. A short biography can be found here.

This video provides a discussion of universal principles for judicial officers around the world and from Coroner Tutton’s experiences. There are likely to be different issues that arise in your country and in your own jurisdiction. You can watch and consider it on your own at any time, but we encourage you to watch it with your colleagues and head of bench and to consider and discuss what is covered in the video and how it relates to your own experiences. 

Conflict of interest with Anna Tutton

Video presentation on conflict of interest
Duration: 30min

This series of four videos focuses on the judical oath and what that means for a judicial officer in practice.

The videos feature discussion about what the judicial oath means to our three experienced judicial officers: Sir David Carruthers (formerly New Zealand’s Chief District Court Judge and Principal Youth Court Judge), Mere Pulea (former Fiji High Court Judge), and New Zealand’s Deputy Chief Coroner Anna Tutton. You can read their short biographies here.

Each video covers a different aspect or element of the judicial oath and is best watched in order.

 

1. Service

Video session one focuses on the judicial oath, specifically what it means “to serve” as a judicial officer, including:
• Impartiality – treating people equally, neutrality
• Independence – free from outside control, influence or persuasion
• Professionalism – punctuality, diligence, and timeliness of judgments
• Accountability, transparency – providing clear reasons for decisions
• Teamwork – flexibility, courtesy, dignity and respect.

Duration: 37min

2. Without fear, favour, affection or ill-will

Video session two focuses on the phrase “without fear or favour, affection or ill will” that commonly features in the judicial oath across the Pacific, including:
• Impartiality – recognising bias, conflict of interest
• Independence – free from any outside control, influence or persuasion
• The Rule of Law – remaining free from political pressure or interference
• Accountability, transparency – providing clear reasons for decisions, based on evidence alone
• Natural justice – ensuring a fair and generally public process that enables equality of treatment

Duration: 18 min

3. Do right to all manner of people

Video session three focuses on the phrase “to right to all manner of people” that commonly features in the judicial oath across the Pacific, including:
• Equality before the law – using appropriate language to address people that are before the court, providing equal treatment no matter who the person is or where they come from
• Equity in the law – acknowledging that certain groups of people face obstacles that others do not and certain groups of people do not have equal access to opportunities or the ability to equal participation as others do.

Duration: 5 min

4. Laws and usages of the land

Video session four focuses on the phrase “laws and usages of [the land]”, or a phrase akin to that, which commonly features in the judicial oath across the Pacific, including:
• Decisions being made in accordance with the law – law as derived from statute law, case law and customary law
• Certainty (or uncertainty) of the law – knowing what the legal hierarchy is in your jurisdiction, as guided by the constitution, to deal with the potential for conflict between statute and customary law
• Knowing, or evidentially proving, customary law – obtaining evidence from community elders
• In-court versus out-of-court resolution – realising that the judicial role remains independent and free of any potential community resolution which seeks to prevent legal proceedings being commenced.

Duration: 19 min

We really appreciate hearing from you. Send us an email letting us know your experience of this module. This only takes a couple of minutes but lets us know how useful this resource was, and what else we might provide to assist in your learning.

JPPF developed a week-long programme for lay judicial officers in 2018. This has been delivered in several countries. It is a practical programme, where participants can practise making and delivering decisions on a variety of matters, including defended hearings in criminal, civil and family, bail decisions and sentencing. 

This training module covers bail decisions, defended criminal hearings, evidence and sentencing. Featuring a series of videos and power point presentations, templates and exercises, local judges and facilitators can tailor this programme as needed. JPPF have produced a template to help you in the decision-making process and in the accompanying videos our judicial education advisors discuss the templates and explore the factors judicial officers need to consider when coming to a decision. 

We have not published the model answers here. If you wish to conduct training using these resources (or are working through them yourself and wish to see the model answers) please contact us.  We can assist you to tailor the materials to your jurisdiction and audience, and provide further facilitator notes.

These resources cover:

  1. Elements of the offence
  2. Proving elements of the offence
  3. Some key aspects of first appearance hearings
  4. The criminal defended hearing process generally

First appearance and criminal procedure powerpoint

Powerpoint used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Presenter notes used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Presenter notes used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Exercises used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Exercises used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Receiving exercise used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Receiving exercise used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

These resources cover bail decisions.

Decisions: Bail

This video features experienced judicial officers, Sir David Carruthers, formerly New Zealand’s Chief District Court Judge and Principal Youth Court Judge and New Zealand's Deputy Chief Coroner Anna Tutton.

One of the first decisions you may need to make as a judicial officer is whether to grant a defendant bail - an important decision that carries some risk. JPPF have produced a template to help you in the decision-making process. In this video Anna and David discuss the bail template and explore the factors judicial officers need to consider when coming to a decision.

DURATION: 33min

Bail template used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Bail template used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Powerpoint used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme, on bail

Powerpoint used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme, on bail

Presenter's notes on bail used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Presenter's notes on bail used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Bail practice exercises used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Bail practice exercises used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

These resources cover decision making and delivery for defended criminal hearings.

Decisions: Criminal judgment writing

This video features experienced judicial officers, Sir David Carruthers, formerly New Zealand’s Chief District Court Judge and Principal Youth Court Judge and New Zealand's Deputy Chief Coroner Anna Tutton.

The role of a judicial officer involves making many decisions. At the conclusion of a defended hearing or a trial you will be required to reach a decision. JPPF have produced a template to help you in this decision-making process. In this video Anna and David discuss the judgment template for defended criminal hearings and explore the factors judicial officers need to consider when reaching a decision.

DURATION: 34min

Defended criminal judgment template used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Defended criminal judgment template used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Powerpoint used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Powerpoint used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme, on making and delivering your judgment

Presenter notes used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Presenter notes used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Defended criminal practice exercises used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Defended criminal practice exercises used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

These resources cover evidence.

Decisions: Evidence

This video features experienced judicial officers, Sir David Carruthers, formerly New Zealand’s Chief District Court Judge and Principal Youth Court Judge and New Zealand's Deputy Chief Coroner Anna Tutton.

In this video Anna and David discuss what evidence is and the fundamental principles relating to it.

DURATION: 21min

The fundamentals of admissibility: Purpose, relevance and probative value

Professor Elizabeth McDonald MNZM, University of Canterbury

This paper provides a detailed consideration, with reference to case law, of evidence admissibility issues pertaining to relevance (the 7 gateway provision) and determining whether that evidence be excluded or included balanced against the probative value and/or prejudicial effect (s 8) the proposed evidence carries. Although relating to NZ's Evidence Act, this is likely to be relevant for Pacific judges as the Act substantially codifies common law principles. Delivered at Te Kura Kaiwhakawā's Evidence and Procedure programme 2019.

Evidence of veracity or propensity

Professor Elizabeth McDonald MNZM, University of Canterbury

This paper provides a detailed consideration, with reference to case law, of evidence proffered for the purpose of veracity (s 37) or propensity (s 40) and what the thresholds are for such evidence to be admissible. Although relating to NZ's Evidence Act, this is likely to be relevant for Pacific judges as the Act substantially codifies common law principles. Delivered at Te Kura Kaiwhakawā's Evidence and Procedure programme 2019.

Hearsay

The Honourable Justice Matthew Downs, NZ High Court judge and Editor of Cross on Evidence and co-author of its 2017 edition.

This paper offers a break-down summary of the law of hearsay, including what is and is not a hearsay statement and how hearsay statements may be admissible in proceedings. Although relating to NZ's Evidence Act, this is likely to be relevant for Pacific judges as the Act substantially codifies common law principles. Delivered at Te Kura Kaiwhakawā's Evidence and Procedure programme 2019.

Previous consistent and inconsistent statements

The Honourable Justice Matthew Downs, NZ High Court Judge and Editor of Cross on Evidence and co-author of its 2017 edition.

This paper provides a summary of the general prohibition against the admission of previous consistent statements under s 35, the exceptions for admission of previous consistent statements (s 35(2) and s 90(5) and (7)) as well as the ability to admit previous inconsistent statements in accordance with ss 7 and 8. Although relating to NZ's Evidence Act, this is likely to be relevant for Pacific judges as the Act substantially codifies common law principles. Delivered at Te Kura Kaiwhakawā's Evidence and Procedure programme 2019.

Identification evidence

The Honourable Justice Matthew Palmer, NZ High Court judge

This paper provides a review of identification issues and how these are practiclaly dealt with in court proceedings. Although relating to NZ's Evidence Act, this is likely to be relevant for Pacific judges as the Act substantially codifies common law principles. Delivered at Te Kura Kaiwhakawā's Evidence and Procedure programme 2019.

Propensity: Application of ss 40, 43

The Honourable Raynor Asher, former NZ Court of Appeal Judge

This paper provides a detailed summary, with reference to case law, of working through propensity issues of proposed evidence in a case with regard to assessing the probative value of the evidnece. One of the examples of propensity evidence discussed relates to previous convictions. Although relating to NZ's Evidence Act, this is likely to be relevant for Pacific judges as the Act substantially codifies common law principles. Delivered at Te Kura Kaiwhakawā's Evidence and Procedure programme 2019.

Defendants' statements, improperly obtained evidence and the right to silence

The Honourable Justice Matthew Downs, NZ High Court judge and Editor of Cross on Evidence and co-author of its 2017 edition.

This paper provides a focused analysis on statements by defendants as assessed through ss 28, 29 and 30 pertaining to statements obtained by oppression, confessionaly statements made in contexts which may be unreliable and improperly obtained statements. Although relating to NZ's Evidence Act, this is likely to be relevant for Pacific judges as the Act substantially codifies common law principles. Delivered at Te Kura Kaiwhakawā's Evidence and Procedure programme 2019.

Evidence Act 2006: Family violence context

Professor Elizabeth McDonald MNZM University of Canterbury

This chapter from the NZ Family Violence Bench Book provides an overview of family violence, offering some introductory observations about how the effects of family violence inflicted on victims can affect the giving of evidence. The chapter then goes on to outline the various scenarios of how to utilise the Evidence Act provisions for common issues that arise in family violence cases, for example, witnesses' refusal to give evidence, non-party disclosure applications, alternative ways of giving evidence. Although relating to NZ's Evidence Act, this is likely to be relevant for Pacific judges as the Act substantially codifies common law principles. Delivered at Te Kura Kaiwhakawā's Family Violence programme 2019.

Memory as evidence: How normal features of victim memory lead to the attrition of rape complaints

Katrin Hohl and Martin A Conway, City University of London, presented by Dr Deidre Brown, School of Psychology, Victoria University

This UK article states that the 'usual' indicators for which the veractiy and credibility of witness testimony is assessed (such as in detail, specifics and consistencies (or inconsistencies) in evidence) are poor indicators of the accuracy of a memory, as informed by a memory research perspective. Delivered at Te Kura Kaiwhakawā's Managing Sexual Violence Trials programme 2019

These resources cover sentencing.

Decisions: Sentencing

This video features experienced judicial officers, Sir David Carruthers, formerly New Zealand’s Chief District Court Judge and Principal Youth Court Judge and New Zealand's Deputy Chief Coroner Anna Tutton.

One of the most important decisions you will need to make as a judicial officer is around sentencing. JPPF have produced a template to help you in the decision-making process. In this video Anna and David discuss the sentencing template and explore the factors judicial officers need to consider when coming to a decision.

DURATION: 34min


Sentencing template used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Sentencing template used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Powerpoint on sentencing used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Powerpoint on sentencing used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Presenter's notes on sentencing used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Presenter's notes on sentencing used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Presenter's notes on discharge without conviction used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Presenter's notes on discharge without conviction used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Sentencing practice exercises used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

Sentencing practice exercises used in the Decisions: Approach, analysis and delivery programme

This module includes two videos featuring JPPF judicial education advisor, Sir David Carruthers as he discusses the Aotearoa/New Zealand Youth Justice system. It includes a discussion with Sergeant Jason Evans from the NZ Police and covers the principles underlying the work of the police and judiciary and provides examples of successful early intervention.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module participants will:

  • Consider accountability of young people based on knowledge about brain development and age
  • Consider the underlying causes of offending for young people who come before them
  • Involve and harness the strengths of whanau and the wider community to improve outcomes for young offenders
  • Promote victims’ involvement and interests
  • Employ a system-wide, team approach to youth justice
  • Look for alternatives to young people appearing in the justice system and heading to prison, i.e keeping young people away from court and diverting them once they are there
  • Recognise effective youth justice activities happening in their own country
  • Use judicial discretion to look for better outcomes for young people that appear before the courts
  • Support young offenders and their families through judicial leadership, such as:
    • influencing future decisions by police by appropriate questioning and ‘judicial encouragement’;
    • initiating cross-sector discussions to move to a better system-wide approach.

 

Aotearoa/New Zealand's youth justice system

In this video Sir David Carruthers explores the elements of the New Zealand youth justice system that increase better outcomes for young people.

DURATION: 17 min

Aotearoa/New Zeland's youth justice system: A discussion with the NZ Police

In this video Sir David Carruthers chats with Sgt Jason Evans from the NZ Police.

DURATION: 31 min

As part of the revision of the Second edition 2012 Cook Islands Justices Bench Book in consultation with the Justices, we divided the Bench book into two separate books.

The Bench Book is intended as a summary and quick reference guide to use in Court. It includes process documents, checklists and templates where useful for Criminal, Family and the Children’s Court law. This is a user friendly summary for more experienced and newly appointed Justices to use when in the Courtroom.

The Handbook is intended both as a guide to newly appointed Justices and as a useful source of reference for more experienced Justices. The Handbook includes detailed explanations and references to legislation and case law for all the Criminal, Family and Children’s Court topics as well as detailed reference material for Foundation chapters such as Judicial Conduct, Sources of law, and Evidence.