New Zealand’s ‘disgusting’ courthouses
Some New Zealand courthouses have been labelled ‘‘disgusting’’, ‘‘disgraceful’ and ‘‘dirty’’ by the lawyers who use them most.
The February edition of the New Zealand Law Society’s magazine LawTalk gives a detailed account into the current state of the country’s courthouses.
While some courts had glowing reviews, the article paints a picture of others falling into disarray, with shoddy wi-fi and blocked toilets.
According to LawTalk, Auckland barrister Sam Wimset wrote to Justice Minister Andrew Little last year saying: ‘‘In a city where both Crown and defence counsel are of a high quality, the local bench has excellent reputation and Court staff are pleasant and efficient, it is unbelievable the facilities could be so poor.’’
The screen used to remove witnesses from view, often to protect their identity or keep them away from their alleged offender’s sight, was partly an old projector screen with ‘‘a piece of plastic that had brown paper taped over it’’, LawTalk reported.
A decline in maintenance and allocation of resources was also to blame for the rundown Auckland and Waita¯kere District Courts, LawTalk said.
One lawyer told the magazine Waita¯ kere District Court ‘‘should just be pulled down’’ and that ‘‘you’d struggle to find a good thing to say about that courthouse’’.
The toilets at Auckland District Court were apparently struggling
‘‘You'd struggle to find a good thing to say about that courthouse.’’
to keep up with demand. ‘‘The public areas in Auckland District Court are shabby and dirty, practitioners say, the public toilets are ‘disgraceful’ and often blocked. One describes it as being ‘notoriously run-down and overcrowded’,’’ the article read.
The meeting rooms were described as being small, without airconditioning, damaged and dirty and sometimes with water on the floor.
Ministry of Justice general manager for commercial and property Fraser Gibbs told LawTalk work was always being done to repair and renovate the courthouses.
‘‘We’re conscious that some buildings, such as the courthouse in Rotorua, have a range of maintenance issues, and are investigating options to address them.’’
Work was going to be done to improve the cells and safety of the people who are held there, Gibbs said.
The Waita¯kere District Court should be ‘‘pulled down’’ according to one lawyer.