ILANZ, In-House Lawyers Association of New Zealand


Profile - Adam Pell, Principal Prosecutor, NZ Police

Profile - Adam Pell, Principal Prosecutor, NZ Police

By Nick Butcher| 19 October 2016

Adam PellPolice prosecutor plans seminar for victims of crime with $5000 dollar scholarship

Adam Pell is passionate about criminal law so becoming the Principal Prosecutor for the Waikato Police District was an excellent fit for his legal skills.

Originally from Hamilton, Mr Pell has a Masters Degree with first class honours in Law from the University of Waikato.

He was admitted in 2006.

After bombarding law firms on his hunt for that first job in law over a decade ago he ended up taking on a role at the Inland Revenue Department in Manukau, South Auckland as a staff solicitor, getting his first taste and exposure to the complex court system.

“I spent a few years there doing taxation quasi-judicial proceedings as well as Auckland High Court proceedings. I cut my teeth in that as well as work in the District Courts of Auckland, North Shore, Manukau, Papakura, Manurewa,” he says.

While that work was satisfying Mr Pell’s sights were set on purely criminal law and he has been employed by the New Zealand Police since 2008.

His work with the men and women in blue began at North Shore Police where within two and a half years he was promoted upon application to the title of Senior Prosecutor which would normally take 5 years to attain.

“I was in a sense a travelling prosecutor because I’d be working from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island, as I’d do a lot of relief work for areas where the prosecutor in that region was absent or if there was a conflict or knowledge gaps”.

You deal with so much including first appearances on murders, sexual offences, drugs and serious assaults cases. I’ve seen a lot of changes with the Summary Proceedings Act and Criminal Procedure Act transition. Everything that changed with that like the Summary Indictable jurisdictions to Judge alone jurisdictions, so all of that sort of stuff has been cutting edge because it has all come out while I’ve been in the midst of my career,” he says.

Armed with that vast and rich legal experience, Mr Pell applied for and successfully got a transfer to his home city of Hamilton.

One of the key motivations was house prices. And life had changed as he had a partner he will soon marry and they now have a young child.

“I wanted to get ahead and Auckland house prices were not ideal. I wanted more than a bus shelter and we’ve designed and built our own home which we are now living in, so the move personally away from the big city was extremely positive as well,” he says.

Mr Pell is a highly driven lawyer and had been preparing for a Principal Prosecutor role for about 5 years.

When he saw it eventually advertised for the Waikato District he pounced on the opportunity.  “That was the first time out of Police National Headquarters that it had been advertised, and I knew I had to go for it”.

“I spent about 2 weeks hunkered down in my bunker preparing for the interview. I wanted that job badly,” he says.

Mr Pell has now been in that role since around May this year, which turned into a double lucky month of sorts.

Years of hard work and dedication to criminal law were recognised as Mr Pell was awarded the 2016 ILANZ Public Sector In-house Lawyer of the Year.

“I’m still humbled by that honour. It absolutely blew me away and I still haven’t actually got over that recognition. It was acknowledgment for all prosecutors who work day in and day out to ensure justice is not only seen to be done, but is done,” he says.

Mr Pell’s award included a $5000 scholarship which he wants to invest in further training for all prosecutors in Police in respect of victims of crime with a focus on children.

“I’m a very victims’ rights style prosecutor and I’ve always felt that the focus of the justice system has been on defendants’ rights and whether their rights have been breached as opposed to the victims’ rights and what they have to live with and endure for the rest of their life,” he says.

Mr Pell says sex offences against children including objectionable images need the focus of the public, the police and the media so that the most vulnerable in society are better protected.

“That’s where I want the money to go. I don’t want it to disappear into a couple of courses, or another couple of letters after my name. I want it go into something that might actually educate and engage more people in this cause because as cliché as it may sound, children are actually the future and what we create now, we endure later,” he says.

Mr Pell has some solid backing for an initiative he is planning with a couple of high profile people who have signalled a willingness to be part of the training.  It includes a High Court Judge who sits on the Committee that monitors the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Geneva and a former Crown partner from law firm Meredith Connell who was renowned as a lead child sex offender prosecutor based in Auckland.

“They’re interested in being part of a seminar that I want to run through the Police Prosecution Service. It’s taking some time to organise because they all have their own workloads and it’s about getting everyone together,” he says.

The plan is to hold the seminar to be rolled out into each of the police prosecution districts with a focus on child victims but before then Mr Pell has to package up the plan and get it approved by Police headquarters, and hopefully it will have some legs early to mid-2017.