The jury staff should be located in the assembly room whenever persons are waiting. Staff should have their own entrance separate from the assembly room and a private work area.
Jury assembly areas should be tastefully and comfortably decorated. Many courts will excuse unselected jurors as soon as it is known they are not needed that day. Where this occurs, the jury assembly may remain empty for most of the day, and the room may be used for other purposes.
The juror assembly room may consist of two distinct spaces: an assembly or orientation area with classroom type seating for prospective jurors and a waiting area and lounge for selected jurors. In some courts, a separate voir dire area, or impaneling room, for jurors being questioned may be needed. Usually, however, voir dire takes place in the courtroom.
Because jurors may wait long periods before being called, there should be enough chairs for each juror to have a seat.
There should be space for passive recreation, such as reading, television, table games, and refreshments. If smoking is permitted in the facility, separate smoking lounge may be provided in the larger assembly area. The space required for the jury assembly/orientation area will depend on the number of jurors commonly called for court. The space required is approximately 15 square feet per juror. A variety of seating may be used: carrels require 30 to 35 square feet per juror; table seating requires 25 square feet per juror; casual seating 20 to 25 square feet per juror; and theater seating 8-10 square feet per juror. Theater seating, however, is needed only for orientation, which lasts from 30 to 60 minutes during the day. Additional spaces include toilets, a vending area, a coat closet, and a storage area for personal belongings. Space should also be planned for court employees based upon the court's operational practices. At a minimum, a check-in desk located near the entrance to the room is required.
The room should be spacious and furnished for such activities as reading, writing, and watching television. The rooms should be well ventilated and acoustically treated to lower interior noise and reduce disruptions to adjacent offices.
All jury assembly areas should be fully accessible to persons with a disability. The areas shall be on an accessible route and provide a minimum of 5 percent wheelchair accessible spaces at any fixed or built-in seating or tables. Refreshment areas, kitchenettes, and fixed or built-in refreshment dispensers are to be fully accessible. If fixed seating is used, the number of accessible wheelchair spaces, location, and dispersal must comply with those requirements for assembly areas included in the ADA Accessibility Guidelines.
The law also requires that assistive listening devices be made available, and where an instructional or orientation video is shown, provisions must be made for the visually impaired.
Jury assembly areas should be located on one of the lower floors of the courthouse. The major advantages of having the assembly area located on the main floor are ease of accessibility from the public entrance and fewer people using elevators and escalators to reach the court floors. The primary disadvantage is the need to transport jurors who are not selected through the public circulation routes between the courtrooms and assembly area. For convenience, it is helpful if the assembly room is near the snack bar if present.
The primary advantage of locating the jury assembly area on the court floor is the ease of movement of jurors to the courtroom. The primary disadvantages are the difficulty jurors may have in finding the jury assembly area upon arriving at the courthouse and the resulting large number of people on the court floor.
Transporting jurors to the courtroom is a major problem in larger courthouses, particularly when everyone is trying to use the elevators at the same time in the morning. The use of a freight elevator to move jurors or making one of the regular public elevators large enough to hold an entire jury panel should be considered.
The jury assembly area should be easily accessible from the entrance to the courthouse. The room should have double doors to accommodate the large traffic flow. An initial reception area should be provided for jurors to check in, receive badges, and store personal belongings. The adjacent workstation, approximately 80 square feet for each jury clerk, should be sufficient for clerks to call jury panels, prepare jury lists, and arrange payment to jurors.
Some jurors may wish to do personal or business work during their wait and should be provided with quiet work carrels or booths consisting of desk, chair, and telephone and electrical outlets. A vending area providing snacks, soft drinks, and coffee should be furnished in each juror area in addition to a drinking fountain. Each jury assembly area should have male and female restrooms.
Clearly displayed signs should guide jurors to the jury assembly area, especially if the area is located away from the main public entrance. The room should have adequate outlets and cabling for video display equipment (should the jurisdiction provide orientation instructions to the jurors via videotape), a public address system, adequate power and cabling for computer terminals and printers should be installed in the staff work area. Courts with jury call-in systems require approximately one direct phone line per 75 jurors.