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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Feeding car-boot lawyers and felons to the lions would be good for fiscal rigour, too

November 16, 2010

Did that car-boot lawyer taste innocent or guilty, Leo?

Our splendid Government is doing a lot to save just $5 million a year, which just goes to show what a fiscally rigorous lot we are in our endeavours to give taxpayers a better deal.

We will be legislating to curtail a defendant’s rights to this, that and the other as part of changes to the criminal justice system announced yesterday, including (in many cases) the right to a trial by jury.

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It’s called progress: namby-pamby consumers will beat an egg but want cockies to be kind to cows

January 12, 2010

Alf became wistful at breakfast, as he mused on the good old days when a bloke could whack the kids when the buggers misbehaved or wallop a cow that became wayward on its wanderings to the milk-shed.

Nowadays some interfering busy-body will report you to the authorities. Next thing you know, a hefty penalty will have been imposed.

These musings were prompted by news that a North Canterbury farmer, a John Dalmer, has been fined $17,500 and ordered to pay court and inquiry costs of more than $60,000 for letting his stock starve.

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So what’s to be done to judge in bias case?

November 30, 2009

There’s the whiff of something distinctly rotten wafting from our justice system.

Justice Minister Simon Power has hastened to attend to the source of some of the pong. But not all of it.

He is to ask Cabinet to agree to sweeping changes to our legal aid service

after revelations hundreds of crooked lawyers are ripping off taxpayers.

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Cleaning up the street takes time

September 30, 2009

(as dictated to Mrs Grumble)

Great news from the capital. Housing New Zealand has won a second court battle to evict families with gang links.

On second thoughts, it’s mixed news.

Winning the legal battle – and strengthening Housing NZ’s right to get rid of troublesome tenants quickly – is one thing.

Throwing out troublesome tenants is another.

Especially when the buggers can find the money to keep the legal fight going.
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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.