Dealing with self represented defendants has been an issue for the courts for some time, notwithstanding the Court of Appeal indicating that amicus curiae appointments should be rare to avoid conflicts, confusion and undermining the legal aid system.
The Court of Appeal decision in Grenville Henare Fahey v. The Queen saw the court consider submissions from the Crown, NZ Law Society and Criminal Bar Association, with the Court noting that the rights to a fair trial were unquestionably a protected right.
The right to self represent is provided under the Criminal Procedure Act 2011. It can be circumscribed
by preventing personal cross examination of a vulnerable witness.
The use of so-called ‘standby counsel’ have been recognised so as to provide counsel who are not amici but who can help the court on legal points. Such counsel should not, however, be regarded as amicus curiae the courts have said and such appointments should be made only in exceptional circumstances.