Jury trials able to return to Dunedin

The Dunedin District Court is holding its first jury trial in the city since historic courthouse was mostly closed 14 months ago.

Ministry of Justice concerns over the stability of the tower in an earthquake drove the decision to close the section of building containing the High Court and another jury courtroom.

That left the city without a jury court and, for most of last year, Dunedin jury cases were held in Invercargill.

But yesterday, for the first time since mid-December, 2011, a jury was chosen to hear a trial in Dunedin.

The hearing is in a courtroom which, until last year, was used for Family Court hearings. After the relocation of the Family Court to John Wickliffe House, the High and district courts used the room for non-jury cases.

Inadequate seating in the room meant most of the prospective jurors had to stand before and during the jury selection process yesterday and Judge Michael Crosbie apologised to prospective jurors for the conditions.

He told the jurors ''a bit of a number eight-wire approach'' had been taken in the preparation of the room for a jury trial. He also said it was hoped more jury cases would be able to be heard in Dunedin this year. The ministry was building ''a temporary facility'' for the court in a building in High St.

A spokesman said work was ''progressing on schedule and we are looking to be ready to start jury trials at High St in July.''


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