Results 1 to 4 of 4

Thread: A billion dollars on legal aid since 2000

  1. #1
    Administrator admin's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Blog Entries

    A billion dollars on legal aid since 2000

    New Zealand has spent a billion dollars on legal aid since 2000, with the five most expensive criminal legal aid grants on cases either discharged, or where the defendant was found to be innocent.
    They were complex cases all were homicides, and in each case legal aid played a crucial role in serving up a better quality of justice.
    The accused Murray Foreman, Chris Kahui, Zion King and David Bain had some of the best lawyers in the business, Law Society president Jonathan Temm said.
    But he said the "best lawyers" had moved away from legal aid because they were so frustrated by recent changes.
    "Injustices are clearly going to result and the Government has been told," he said.
    Government spending on legal aid has more than doubled in the last decade, growing from just over $75 million in 2000/01 to $169m in the 2010/11 financial year, the Justice Ministry said.
    Mr Temm said he wasn't surprised that the most expensive grants were given to cases which resulted in not guilty verdicts, as it was an expensive process to defend a highly complex case.
    Some people would think it was money well spent, while others would argue it was a waste, he said.
    While the five most expensive criminal grants may have been provided to defend people who were found innocent or had their cases discharged, the next five resulted in guilty verdicts, or their case for an appeal was rejected.
    The largest family legal aid grant since 2000 was for $219,000 and the largest civil grant for $533,000 it was a claim for compensation over a fatality, according to the ministry.
    Anyone who receives legal aid may be required to repay some of the costs, but in practice, most people who receive criminal legal aid are not required to make repayments.
    A raft of changes to legal aid have been instated or proposed. They include the introduction of fixed fees, changes to eligibility criteria and more active management of high cost cases, which would require lawyers to provide estimates before starting work.
    The Law Society has expressed its dismay at the changes, saying the fixed rates are so low there will be a "fundamental impact on quality and focus of lawyers who continue to provide legal aid".
    This means lawyers who have done legal aid work for a long time have stopped, so those facing charges now have a much smaller pool of lawyers to draw from.
    "People think this is a brighter way forward, but really it's just about the money. It's all about policy and procedure, but it's not about the people and the outcome," Mr Temm said.

  2. #2

    The legal profession works as a business not a profession -Chris Wingate

    The legal profession works as a business not a profession. Too many lawyers and judges are quite simply, parasites on society. They have bound us in red tape destroying micro and macro economic structures. The damage is huge.

    Collectively, and sadly, they are a self serving narcissistic group of businessman who protect and foster their cashflow industry planting seeds for new legislation that creates new business. They control outcomes because each additional hour is huge income and to them and peoples problems are too good to settle quick.

    Although lawyers owe a fiduciary duty to their clients, they are in a conflict of breaching that duty of care by their self serving control to earn obscene income, versus the needs of the client. The justice system has been undermined by lawyers who are sadly scamming the public and causing us all grief.

    In her review of lawyers, New Zealand's Dame Margaret found lawyers taking backhanders, charging illegal "top-up" fees and grouping together to defraud the legal aid system. She was horrified as she visited courthouses and found lawyers and defendants "abusing the system to the detriment of clients, the legal aid system, the courts and the taxpayer". And that she said was only a tip of the iceberg. "The longer I talked to people, the more I found," Dame Margaret said. "I think I could have gone on forever."

    We urgently need legislation to stop lawyers and judges deciding the conduct of their own members. Conflicts of interest are too great to allow self regulation.

    For years the legal system has rejected appeals for the law to blend in more closely with public policy considerations. They claim the system is the best we have got. After spending millions and millions on lawyers in Arklow vs Maclean, all I can say to that is crap!

    But I don't hold my breath for legislative protection because lawyers control parliament and politicians are too busy with their own conflict of interest, permanently campaigning to keep their job. And what does that mean? - they ignore you.

    The only answer I can see on the horizon is the public to understand government is established to serve us.We own it, so we need to set the rules that control those who protect their own. Fiduciary legislative law is the only answer. And together with the removal of crown and judicial immunity any attempts by politicians and lawyers/legal society to self serve would be dealt with before a jury.

    And yes, that would mean final decisions would be subject to the scrutiny of a special jury. Because if not, we don't have democracy, we have a dictatorship. And none of us have signed up for that.So next time you have to deal with some idiot in power just concider how his actions of failure would appear before a jury- the people's constitutional jury. Do you think they would get away with self serving negligent conduct?

  3. #3
    Administrator admin's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Blog Entries
    Liam Reeds Legal Aid Bill...

    A decade of crime by a convicted murderer and rapist has cost the taxpayer nearly $260,000 in legal aid to date, a figure his victim calls "a slap in the face".
    Liam Reid is serving a 23-year minimum non-parole sentence for the rape and murder of Christchurch woman Emma Agnew and rape and attempted murder of a former Dunedin woman.

    The Ministry of Justice released, under the Official Information Act, Reid's legal aid bill, dating back to 2001.

    To date, the total is $259,336.52.

    "I feel like it's a slap in the face that such violent, malicious and well known criminals like Reid are getting hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on them.

    "This is a criminal who has repeatedly committed awful crimes throughout his life, is well known by the police and appears to lack any remorse for his crimes, yet he is given yet another chance to manipulate and make a mockery of the New Zealand legal system.

    "Criminals such as Reid should not be given so many chances to repeat the heinous crimes and ruin people's lives," his victim said.

    She believed criminals had "every right" to prove their innocence as "everyone should be given a fair and equal go at life".

    "But where monsters like Reid are concerned, my view and opinion changes. Reid has been in and out of jail numerous times due to a variety of crimes, some of which are very similar to what he did to myself and Emma [Agnew].

    "It seems obvious that Reid is an extremely violent criminal that shows no remorse for his actions against others and will never reform."

    The largest chunk of Reid's legal aid bill, $207,803.13, was paid in 2008 and related to the defence of his rape and murder charges.

    That case was foreshadowed by an earlier 2002 trial when he was found not guilty of eight sex crimes. However, he was convicted of using the woman's eftpos card and stealing $160 and was sentenced to three months in jail.

    While in prison awaiting that trial, Reid attacked a fellow inmate, severely beating him with a broom handle, and hit another inmate who tried to intervene. He was sentenced to 27 months in jail for the attack.

    In 2002, he was granted $24,012.70 in legal aid.

    He was also charged with assaulting another inmate with intent to injure by throwing boiling water over him and punching him in the head.

    Reid was acquitted of those charges in 2003, but the following year had a six-month sentence imposed for threatening to kill and a three-month concurrent sentence imposed for mailing a threatening letter.

    In 2005, he attempted to sue the Department of Corrections for $40,000 after a prison guard cuffed him around the head in 2004 when he verbally abused him, but failed.

    Over those two years, Reid was granted $2995.25 in legal aid.

    In 2007, he was sentenced to community work and nine months' supervision for, among other charges, preparing to commit a crime. That year, he was granted $3189.80 in legal aid.

    In 2009, following his 2008 conviction, Reid appealed both his conviction and sentence. That year, he was granted $14,785.24 in legal aid.

    In 2012, a second appeal was lodged, though dismissed. Figures for legal aid relating to that appeal had not yet been finalised.

    Reid's victim received financial assistance from ACC until she was able to return to work, while the police refunded her for items of clothing taken as evidence for the trial and for items which Reid stole from her.

    The police also paid for her flights and accommodation to attend the trial and she believed the assistance provided her was "sufficient".

    "What does make me angry, though, is the huge amount of legal costs that are created due to the ongoing support and opportunities given to some of New Zealand's most horrendous criminals."

    Professor of criminal at the University of Otago Kevin Dawkins said "as taxpayers, most people shrink at the idea of having these people paid" but legal aid was "an established part of the criminal justice system", as was the right to a fair trial and the right to defend oneself.

    "Society must accept a certain cost, though recent reforms are intended to control escalating costs."

  4. #4
    What doesn't help is the amount paid out to unqualified persons. I am a retired legal executive and my boss never paid me $75 an hour (let alone $95) for the work I did on any legal aid file. But I suppose it is nice if you can get it.

    During the David Bain retrial, the defence team drew over $2 million of legal aid, the largest amount ever for a single trial. Joe Karam was also paid by Legal Aid Services for his work in assembling the documents for the case.

    It is notable that Karam was eligible to receive this money as a legal executive to the tune of up to $95 an hour, but he has no legal training.

    Information released by Legal Aid Services in relation to the 2009 retrial of David Bain:

    During the period up to and including the 2009 retrial Joe Karam claimed $365,879 in legal aid. Of this $272,822 was in fees and $93,057 in disbursements.

    From 22 May 2007 to 31 January 2008, Karam claimed 749 hours for which he was paid $75 per hour as an "unqualified legal executive" acting under the supervision of Michael Reed.

    From 1 February 2008 to 5 March 2009, Karam claimed about 2045 hours at $95 an hour. This amounts to around an average of 37.5 hours a week, allowing for statutory holidays but no other time off, for a 13 month period.

    Karam was classified as a 'legal executive' for this work but has no qualifications related to law or legal services.

    Karam claimed a further 235 hours for work during the retrial from 6 March 2009 to 5 June 2009.

    749 hours @ $75 $56,175.00
    2045.5 hours @ $95 $194,322.00
    235 hours @ $95 $22,325.00

    TOTAL $272,822.00

    Plus Expenses $93,057.00


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts