"The injustice in justice." : An examination of the quality of legal representation young Māori men receive in the criminal justice system

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Bold-Wilson, Paula
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Conference Contribution - Oral Presentation
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Māori youth
Māori men
legal representation
social justice
indigenous methodologies
Bold-Wilson, P.A. (2017, September). "The injustice in justice." An Examination of the quality of legal representation young Maori men receive in the criminal justice system. Paper presented at ANZSWWER 2017, Auckland University.
Considering the disproportionate number of Maori in the justice system, this presentation critically analyses the quality of legal representation Maori men receive in the system. Drawing on interviews with eight Maori men aged 18-30, the presentation challenges the discourses implicit within the terms ‘justice’ and ‘quality’. In this research, which employs Kaupapa Maori methodology, ‘quality’ is defined by the participants, and is used to assess their experience with their lawyers in the District Court. Three lawyers were also interviewed, to gain their perspectives on core participants’ representations. Findings indicate a need to critically examine: key aspects of the lawyer/client relationship, use of legal terminology, the range of legal options made available to clients, and lawyers’ willingness to defend non-guilty pleas. In addition, in response to these findings, the lawyers identified systemic issues such as inadequate resourcing, significant workloads, and problematic courtroom environments as factors which contribute to legal services that are less than ideal. Suggestions to improve the system are highlighted. A key argument in this presentation is that Kaupapa Maori methodology can not only provide an effective means to empower research participants, but also add value by enhancing social justice in an area that is not widely researched.
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