Paperwork blunder results in $50k claim

Last updated 11:56 02/07/2014

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The Crown says a woman being wrongly arrested and kept in custody overnight is "regrettable" and should not have happened, but her damages claim should fail for legal reasons.

In the High Court at Wellington today Crown lawyer Sean Kinsler said the Crown was not liable for reasons including that court staff who had not updated records, were covered by the same immunity that protects judges who make mistakes.

A woman is claiming $50,000 in damages for being arrested and spending more than 15 hours in custody because Wellington District Court staff did not update records, a judge has been told.

Justice Ministry staff lacked the training and knowledge to foresee the consequences of not updating court records, lawyer Douglas Ewen said in the High Court at Wellington today.

Ewen was representing Camille Iriana Thompson who had been facing charges finally dealt with in court on July 18, 2012. Part of the wrap up of her charges was the cancelling of an earlier sentence she had received which was replaced with a new sentence.

But the original paperwork relating to a probation application to review the earlier sentence was not in court that day and the judge recorded the result on another document.

Ewen said updating the court's computer system, CMS, would have recorded the outcome and that the charges against Thompson had been finally dealt with.

But it was not updated and on July 23 the original paperwork for the review application went before a judge as previously scheduled. Thompson did not appear in court because the application had already been dealt with but that had not been recorded CMS so the judge issued a warrant for her arrest.

The computer system still had not been updated on July 31, 2012, when Thompson was arrested on the warrant.

Ewen said Thompson was in custody at Wellington Central Police Station for more than 15 hours before being taken to court where a judge cancelled the warrant.

The Attorney-General is being sued on behalf of the Justice Ministry, for false imprisonment, negligence, systemic negligence, and arbitrary arrest and detention.

The damages claim is expected to take two days to hear.

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- The Dominion Post

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