Competencies of Trial: Fitness to Plead in New Zealand

Through a detailed examination of relevant legislation and developing case law Competencies of Trial: Fitness to Plead in New Zealand addresses issues around the determination of fitness to plead, or competency to stand trial, which has long been a vexed issue for the law.

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ISBN/ISSN: 9781877511745
Release Date: September 01, 2011
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ISBN/ISSN: 9781927149966
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Through a detailed examination of relevant legislation and developing case law Competencies of Trial: Fitness to Plead in New Zealand addresses issues around the determination of fitness to plead, or competency to stand trial, which has long been a vexed issue for the law. Recent statutory developments in New Zealand follow legislative changes that have occurred in other common law jurisdictions in response to the acknowledged importance of the fitness of a person to stand trial as a threshold issue. With the emergence worldwide of a human rights culture in the last 25 years, criminal procedure has been especially impacted upon as legislatures struggle to ensure that local criminal laws and procedure are “rights-compliant” and conform with international human rights standards.

Competencies of Trial: Fitness to Plead in New Zealand considers how the tensions described above are worked out in practice through the statutory rules governing unfitness to stand trial. The book examines how the courts have operationalised the fitness rules in relation to such questions as how the issue is raised, how it is determined and the extent to which the rules ought to reflect a best interest component. It then considers comparative and ethical issues, and addresses particular concerns about expert evidence in this context. Later chapters consider how the law has evolved, or is evolving, in relation to particular cohorts of people for whom the unfitness rules have special significance in their application, namely juveniles and persons with an intellectual disability. Finally, issues around the disposition of unfit offenders are considered, together with the related question of whether the law should provide for fitness to be tested in the post-conviction phase. The book concludes with some recommendations for reform.

Warren Brookbanks is a Professor of Law at the University of Auckland where he has been with the Faculty of Law since 1983. Warren has an international reputation in the fields of criminal law, mental health law and therapeutic jurisprudence.

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Table of contents

Chapter 1: Introduction: The origins of the fitness rule


Chapter 2: Developments of the doctrine in New Zealand


Chapter 3: Raising the issue of fitness: S 9 hearings and beyond


Chapter 4: Establishing the threshold and determining fitness to stand trial


Chapter 5: Unfitness to plead in the United Kingdom


Chapter 6: Expert evidence in the assessment of trial competence


Chapter 7: Ethical issues in determining fitness


Chapter 8: Intellectually disabled offenders and determining trial competence


Chapter 9: Juvenile competence to stand trial


Chapter 10: Fitness to be sentenced


Chapter 11: Disposition of persons unfit to stand trial


Chapter 12: Conclusions and recommendations for reform