Court Martial and Summary Appeal Court: COVID-19 Alert Level 3 Protocol

Chief Judge/Judge Advocate General Kevin J Riordan ONZM
23 April 2020 - reinstated 28 February 2021

The Court Martial of New Zealand and Summary Appeal Court continue to operate during the Alert Level 3 period to deal with priority proceedings as the need arises.  For this purpose, the Chief Judge of the Court Martial/Judge Advocate General, and the Registrar of the Court Martial, remain available to deal with applications and references.

All priority proceeding, as described below, will be dealt with by the Chief Judge/Judge Advocate General, and the Registrar of the Court Martial.  Whenever possible the appearance will be by audio-visual link (AVL).  Until further notice, witnesses for trials before the Court Martial, are not required to attend Court in person to give evidence.

All court participants in the Court Martial are permitted to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and face masks while appearing in court either in person or remotely.  Strict distancing provisions and personal hygiene requirements relevant to level 3, as advised by the Ministry of Health, are to be complied with at all times.

Priority proceedings

Generally, priority proceedings will include matters considered to be of such significant disciplinary importance that the immediate attention of the Court Martial is warranted.  These matters may include:

  • Trials before the Court Martial that must be proceeded with swiftly during the emergency period in order to maintain service discipline;
  • Bail applications, or bail proceedings initiated by the Judge Advocate General, in respect of persons subject to the Armed Forces Discipline Act being held in close arrest;
  • Summary appeals for persons held in detention;
  • Petitions to the Reconsidering Authority;
  • Petitions to the Judge Advocate General;
  • Special references by the Judge Advocate General to the Court Martial Appeal Court or the Summary Appeal Court;
  • Appeals to the Summary Appeal Court or Court Martial Appeal Court in respect of custodial sentences.
    (Appeals to the Court Martial Appeal Court are run out of the High Court. However, it is necessary for the Registrar of the Court Martial to ensure the proceedings of the relevant trial before the Court Martial are available.)

Accredited news media will continue to have access to the Court Martial in order to report court proceedings, to ensure continued open and transparent justice.

In all priority proceedings, participation by counsel will be conducted remotely to the extent that is possible.  All counsel are permitted to appear by AVL or telephone.

If facilities for the accused to appear by AVL are not available, the accused will appear in person.

In addition, a number of locations on camps and bases now have a virtual hearing facility which can be used by counsel, court participants, and accredited media to participate in priority proceedings by AVL from their homes or offices.  A Judge and the Registrar will be in the courtroom but counsel are encouraged to appear by AVL whenever feasible.  The Registrar will advise when virtual hearing facilities are available.