Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Profoundly Deaf Jury Summons, Christchurch Quakes

I am profoundly deaf & Christchurch High Court Jury Summons system was / is profoundly deaf too.

I wasn't born deaf & worked for decades as a hearing person in 3 countries, before my arrival in NZ as a deaf person. NZ Immigration Service didn't object to my deafness (after compulsory medical reports) & accepting my residence visa application forms & application money for myself & family. No Kiwi ever rejected my money because of my deafness.

I'd been profoundly deaf for years & some year ago I was excused juror service by Christchurch courts by filling in a Jury Summons Response form & being excused from jury service.

Socially, a profoundly deaf person endured 1000s of slights & irritations. Every commercial transaction was an ordeal, having to explain deafness to strangers, like checkout people at supermarkets, paying for petrol, post shop transactions, ad nauseum...

Despite my hearing aid, I endured eye-rolling, hard looks, mutterings, insults & arguments with adults who should've known better. Ironic that my professional training in teaching, arts, sciences, personnel & work experience had involved decades of normal communications with people from all walks of life.

The last slight was a hard look from a Papanui National Bank teller, whom I'd dealt with many times, while she ascertained my simple transactions. I'd already explained slowly & clearly. Bank tellers rarely listened properly & I had to repeat transactions.

A week before, a Bower Ave, BP garage, night serviceman insisted I needed to fill my car with diesel or low grade petrol, instead of premium petrol I needed, just because he thought I was deaf & dumb & because HE had misinterpreted my petrol request & counter payment before I filled up. I called him from his cosy little night office into the cold night air... After 5 minutes heated argument, I persuaded him to switch on the correct petrol I needed.

C'est la vie of a profoundly deaf person.

Some commercial establishments had natty yellow signs on counters, expecting deaf people to suck it up & tell strangers once more they're deaf... I didn't see those prissy discriminatory signs for other disabled people - wheelchair people, brain damaged people, blind people, learning disabled people... 

Deja vu. Post quakes, I received another Jury Summons, received from Christchurch High Court registrar, dated 16 April 2012. The Summons included a pamphlet, a Jury Summons form letter, a 3 page Response to Jury Summons form to complete & a quake "safety" form: What steps have been taken to ensure safety of Christchurch courts?

Post Feb 22 quake & more recent quakes, Christchurch court cases had transferred to Rangiora courts, a Maori Marae & various other venues, while Christchurch High Court bldg was trapped in the quake trashed, CBD, red zone cordon.

Extracts from the court quake "safety" form:

"The Ministry's Earthquake Recovery Programme is exhaustive in its approach to ensure the safety of buildings. You may have concerns about entering Ministry of Justice buildings in central Christchurch - please be assured that the safety of court users is paramount. A number of steps were taken before a decision to re-enter the Tower Building could be made..."

Post serial quakes, 2010-2012, considering all the high rises being demolished by CERA in the red zone CBD, Tower Building -282 Durham Street was scary.

"After the 22 February earthquake the Tower Building had a 'green sticker.'

An early engineering report stated: The Tower Building is of very robust construction. The building performed extremely well and there is minimal damage other than some minor non-structural damage.
Opus International Consultants 

Engineer's initial visual inspections were followed by highly detailed reports

* Months of quantitative assessments and geotechnical investigations were undertaken at this building.

* The Ministry's engineering work confirms that the Tower Building is a low-risk building.

*  The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority has reviewed our engineering reports and has no structural engineering concerns over the occupation of Tower Building.

Using the court

* Access to the other buildings in the main court complex is fully restricted while remedial work is carried out. The Family Court on Armagh Street is open to justice services.

* There is a single point of public entry to the main building on Durham Street. [Down the road from demolished Crowne Plaza Hotel, Copthorne Hotel & several nearby Victoria St demolitions, like Riverlands House...]

* As you walk in the Building you may notice that repair work is being completed underground the building's exterior. This work is to waterproof the basement - and has no impact on the structural safety of the building..."

So why waterproof Tower Building basement? Months ago, post Feb 22 quake, I'd seen a basement waterproofing sign on the back door of Christchurch Casino, corner Durham St & Peterborough St, further up Durham St from Tower Building & further away from Avon River. Quake flood water was pumped from the Casino basement into Peterborough St gutter.

As the Casino basement, some distance from Avon River & Tower Building, needed Feb 22 quake flood pumping & waterproofing, I wondered how much quake flooding & liquefaction happened to Tower Building on Avon River bank? " Remedial work" & "structural safety" indeed.

Reprise: Like nearby, quake trashed, red zone / white zoned, Town Hall, Tower Building was on Avon River bank.

By CERA / govt decree, many Avon River downriver suburbs were red zoned, with 1000s of citizens forced to leave their homes. (Latest red zone house count - 7256, according to the Weekend Press 19-20. 05.12). Snag with court paper assurances was that quake trashed, Christchurch CBD, built on swampland & beside Avon River loops, was still white zoned, so CERA was willfully keeping the public unaware of the extent of CBD ground damage by serial quakes.

19.05.12. Although Tower Building was green zoned by CERA, I tried checking CERA land zoning of several Central Christchurch addresses in Gloucester St & Worcester St, newly opened by CERA. CERA's revamped Landcheck website gave no information on the land zoning of those Central Christchurch addresses.

Never mind 700+ demolitions, including high rises, already completed in the red zone CBD by CERA.

The Jury Summons letter stated:

"Your name has been randomly selected from the jury list..."

Regarding the Response to Jury Summons 3 page form, I sent a copy of my latest hearing / profound deafness tests (2011, $90+ a pop) & commented:

"1. I am deaf and would be useless as a juror as I cannot hear properly.

2. I was sent a juror request some years ago and it is offensive and embarrassing that I have to go through this humiliating process of explaining my disability once more to a faceless bureaucrat who obviously has poor records.

3. See photocopy of my hearing / deafness test!..."

Court registrar form letter reply, 15 May 2012:

"RE: Jury Service on 05 June 2012

Thank you for your jury service excusal application.

I am writing to let you know that you  have been excused from jury service. [Again!]

You are no longer required to attend jury service on this occasion.

Because the process to summon a juror is completely random, you may be summoned again in the future to be a juror.

If you have any questions, please contact the Jury Officer at the Christchurch High Court on...

Jurors are essential to the justice system and their contribution is valued and appreciated. Thank you for responding quickly to your summons..."

My contention was that it was mad harassment to repeatedly summon a profoundly deaf person for juror duty when the court registrar could simply record a list of disabled people already summoned & excused. And save the disabled person harassment & embarrassment, by repeated court summonses. Also mentioning court registrar wasting taxpayers' money & costly inconvenience for a profoundly deaf person forced to repeatedly obtain & send medical excuses to court strangers.

So who was profoundly deaf?

My 19.05.12 response to the court registrar:

"Your form letter 15 May 2012 refers:

As your 'random' Juror Summons processing perpetuates harassment of profoundly deaf people, like myself, and as you are passing the buck to the Jury Officer, what are YOU doing to correct matters & stop profoundly deaf people being harassed with a repeated 'random' Jury Summons?...

cc Jury Officer."

Hearing Week 25-31 March 2012. The National Foundation for the Deaf (NFD) website reported that there were over 700 000, one in 6 New Zealanders, who were deaf.

There were many deaf people who could be harassed by NZ court registrars, by repeated Jury Summons. Never mind waste of taxpayers' money.

22 May 2012 reply from the court registrar, cc jury officer:

"Thank you for your letter dated 19 May 2012.

Unfortunately we are unable to permanently excuse potential jurors from the jury list. Each potential juror is randomly selected from the electoral roll so anyone eligible [Eligible huh?] may be summoned every two years.

We understand that sometimes people selected for jury service can't attend so there is the option to apply to be excused or you can apply to defer your jury service to a more suitable time within the following 32 months.

Please note that throughout the jury selection process there is no information provided which indicates to the court that you are profoundly deaf. The Jury Officer would not be aware until advised otherwise. [I'd already advised twice!]

If you are excused from jury service, your name is only removed from the current list which means you may receive another jury summons in the future."

The court registrar was clearly stupid. He would do fuck all, then hound me again in future for another jury summons, expecting a different outcome.

"British" jury selection in NZ was raving mad! No wonder Dickens wrote Bleak House. The crazy jury selection system had not changed since Victorian times, with court registrars & jury officers repeating the same stupid harassment decade after decade.

Coda 2016-2017: After the post quakes, CERA Blueprinted, Justice & Emergency Services Precinct was opened between Lichfield St & Tuam St, Science Alive relocated from the closed / demolished station, Moorhouse Ave, to the old Court House, Durham St Nth.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont..

See National Foundation for the Deaf.

See Science Alive relocation to Court House, Durham St North (The Press / Stuff Co).


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