A good idea from New York – young lawyers should earn their ticket by working for free for a while

May 7, 2012

Alf has been minded of our hefty legal-aid bill in recent times.

And its drain on the public purse.

His hackles were raised by news that the legal aid bill for David Bain’s retrial was $3.33m, the highest amount in legal history.

New Zealand’s legal history, presumably.

The Ministry of Justice said that the final figure for Bain’s defence was $3.33 million.

Of that amount, $2.33 million went towards the retrial costs and almost $1 million was paid for expenses in the retrial like research, investigators and forensics.

Lawyer’s fees throughout the High Court, Court of Appeal and retrial process amounted to $1.77 million of the total bill.

Bain’s lawyer, Michael Reed QC, told Radio NZ most of the costs of the retrial were to pay for overseas experts.

Bain is not receiving legal aid in his bid for compensation.

Then came a report saying New Zealand had spent a billion dollars on legal aid since 2000.

The five most expensive criminal legal aid grants were made in cases either discharged, or where the defendant was found to be innocent.

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Good grief – see who’s on the “most trusted” list

June 24, 2009

Alf is seriously sulking over a survey that ranks Blue Chip’s Mark Bryers among the 85 most trusted people in the country.

Mark Bloody Bryers is the bloke who co-founded the company in which many Kiwis lost their savings, and who is facing a raft of charges laid by the Companies Office.

Another bout of litigation has been brought by 240 or so investors who claim their apartment sale and purchase agreements are void and they should not be forced to honour them, and that Blue Chip was deceptive and misled the investors.

And so on.

Sure, Bryers just sneaks in at No 85 on the most trusted list.

But Alf Grumble, hard-working and much-admired member for Eketahuna North, is not there at all.
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Anyone want a champion to spring them from clink?

June 10, 2009

Alf is looking for an injustice to put to rights.

More particularly, he is looking for someone who has been banged up for something like – well, a widely publicised mass murder rap springs to mind.

Alf will then spring to the rescue, mounting a campaign to have the verdict overthrown, the accused person freed, and police ineptitude and injustice exposed.

Mind you, he confesses that late in the day he is apt to lack the enthusiasm and dedication of some other champions of injustice.

When the sun goes down, he might be tempted to do some of his campaigning from the inner sanctum of the Eketahuna Club. But he thinks he can persuade the club executive to let the TV cameras in on occasions – along with other news media – for interviews and so on.
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Further work for lawyers in the Bain case aftermath

June 9, 2009

Alf notes that steps are under way to keep the legal fraternity further engaged in the Bain murder case and the inevitable consequences. Bain family members who benefited from the estate have sought legal advice.

Proceeds from the estate were distributed to David Bain’s uncles and aunts (his father’s two brothers and a sister and his mother’s three sisters) when David was disqualified from inheriting by his murder convictions in 1995.

The not guilty verdict at the retrial puts a cloud over his disinheritance and raises the question of David’s entitlement to the family fortune.
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The Bain murders: taxpayers have been bloodied too

June 6, 2009

Alf doesn’t want to put a dampener on the celebrations by David Bain and his supporters, after the non-guilty verdicts in the murder trial.

But he wonders how much of the retrial tab should be picked up by taxpayers.

The news media have been full of the story, after a jury yesterday found Bain not guilty of murdering his family – five separate charges – in Dunedin 15 years ago.

The verdicts showed the jury thought the system had got it wrong.

Costs have yet to be finalised, but sources have told The Press a “back of the envelope” total was $4 million to $5m. That does not include the salaries of police, judicial, ministry and court staff who have expended a huge amount of time on the case.

Police are believed to have spent about $500,000 on expenses for the retrial, and legal services provided to the Crown are expected to cost about $750,000 for the retrial and preliminary hearings over two years.

The Legal Services Agency disclosed yesterday that Bain had received $2,056,495 in legal aid to date for his retrial, although many invoices had still to come in.

Bain received $706,127 legal aid for his 1995 trial, his original Court of Appeal hearing and the original appeal to the Privy Council.

Bain supporter Joe Karam has been working 70 to 80-hour weeks since the Privy Council decision in 2007, having hardly a day off, he told The Press yesterday.

He was paid at the legal executive rate of $75 an hour and has been paid for three hours each day of the trial.

Private donations had helped, but had not been more than the campaign had cost him personally, he said.

Now the question of compensation is being raised.

Guess who will pick up the tab for that, if it is awarded?

We shouldn’t take it for granted there will be a payout.

Christchurch QC Nigel Hampton said Bain could apply for compensation. However, his chances of success would be limited because Bain would be required to prove his innocence, which was much harder than proving reasonable doubt to a jury.

But Alf has been hearing lawyers say they think Bain is a very deserving case.

Regardless of compensation, taxpayers have been bloodied, too, by the Bain slayings and the extraordinary judicial consequences.