Angry lawyers say Rotorua's courthouse is so run down, the "disgraceful" conditions are compromising justice.
An Auckland lawyer in Rotorua for a recent trial was so shocked, he's written to Courts Minister Andrew Little pleading for urgent action.
He cited several concerns, including the fact the law library was closed as a result of mould caused from a leaking roof.
His calls are backed by Rotorua Crown solicitor Amanda Gordon, who has described the court's cells as "feral" and says the conditions are so bad, they risk witnesses being put off coming to court to give evidence.
Gordon said justice had already been compromised with a district court trial being adjourned last month as a result of the cells not being big enough to hold the defendants because of a High Court trial of several defendants at the same time.
Auckland barrister Sam Wimsett said in his letter to Little the Rotorua courthouse conditions were a "disgrace".
He has invited Little and Ministry officials to come to Rotorua to see the building as a matter of urgency.
"In a city where both Crown and defence counsel are of a high quality, the local bench has an excellent reputation and court staff are pleasant and efficient, it is unbelievable that the facilities could be so poor," Wimsett's letter said.
He said there were only two meeting rooms in the cells and they could only be accessed by walking around the street to the back entrance of the court. There was usually a line of lawyers waiting to see their clients.
He said there was no way lawyers could take adequate instructions from their clients in the 15-minute morning and afternoon adjournments when they had to walk around and queue.
Duty solicitors, counsel appearing in the district court and in the High Court share the two meeting rooms. He said they were dark, cramped and not soundproof.
There was only one toilet used by all counsel, police officers, witnesses who are giving evidence via CCTV and occasionally court staff. The alternative is to use the public toilets, which wasn't always appropriate for police and Crown having to share toilets with defendants.
He said the lack of Wi-Fi was "ridiculous" and was a fundamental requirement given that so many counsel now operated a paperless office and conducted legal research online.
He said in the recent High Court trial he was involved in, two witnesses were to give their evidence from behind a screen. But when he saw it was an old projector screen and a piece of plastic that had brown paper taped over it, he applied to the judge to have the witnesses give evidence via CCTV instead.
Ministry commercial and property general manager Fraser Gibbs said he was aware of several concerns with the building and was investigating options to address them.
He anticipated the law library being available for use by the end of this year once the roof leak had been addressed.
Gibbs said Wi-Fi was only available in Auckland, Manukau, Waitakere and North Shore district courts, the Justice and Emergency Services Precinct in Christchurch, the Auckland and Wellington High Courts, the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court and the Environment Court and Waitangi Tribunal in Wellington. The ministry was investigating options to extend the service to other courthouses.
He said the suitability of the screen would be addressed by local court staff, in accordance with the Evidence Act 2006.