Other courtroom components necessary for the efficient completion of a trial or hearing, depending upon the type of trial or hearing include:
Sound Lock/Entrance Vestibule
A courtroom entrance or vestibule serves as a transition between the courtroom and the public circulation areas. It also blocks noise from the adjacent corridor. Typically, the vestibule consists of two sets of doors. Glass panels should be placed in both sets of doors to allow viewing of the proceedings. The distance between the doors should be regulated by applicable codes, but generally eight-to-ten feet are recommended. The vestibule should permit easy passage of a wheelchair. The vestibule entry may also include space for a coat closet and umbrella stand. Attorney/client conference rooms may also open off the vestibule. The public entrance to the courtroom should be lockable to provide security when the court is not in session.
Special Counsel Station
Special counsel may be present in the courtroom, particularly in juvenile and domestic cases. Social workers, probation officers, and guardians ad litem participate as witnesses or to protect the interests of other participants during trials. A temporary station near the attorney tables may be appropriate. In probation hearings, the setting may be informal, and probation officers can be seated at one of the attorney tables.
Evidence Display and Storage
After exhibits are introduced into evidence and marked by the court clerk or court reporter, they should be displayed on a shelf or table in full view of the court. Hazardous exhibits, such as firearms and other objects that could be used as weapons, drugs, and toxic substances should be placed away from the witness, jury box, and defendant's table. Usually, the clerk station or an adjacent bailiff's or court officer's station is the most suitable location.
Each courtroom should have an inconspicuous evidence storage locker or closet where items may be secured by the clerk during recesses. The storage area should be located out of any traffic patterns and should accommodate a variety of documents on shelves, in their proper order, and equipped with several small compartments to safeguard weapons or drugs.
A wall clock should be provided.
Approximately 40 square feet should be provided for storing such items as projectors, television monitors, chart boards, easel pads, tripods, chalk and markers, cleaning cloths, pins and tape, and pointers.
With the exception of a few types of hearings, the press has the right to report on trial events. Some trial courtrooms may be designed with special facilities for the press, such as a specified location in the spectator area or a dedicated area at the rear or side of the courtroom. In some jurisdictions, the press occupies a room adjacent to the courtroom with a one-way glass for viewing and taping the proceedings. The presence of the press should not disrupt the dignified and decorous atmosphere of the court.
Defendant or Prisoner Seating
In general cases, the defendant sits with the defense attorney at the counsel table. In cases that do not require an attorney, such as traffic violations and misdemeanors, defendants often are seated together at the edge of the litigation area waiting to be called to appear before the judge. Seating should be near the bench with clear sight lines between the bench and witness stand. A sturdy armchair or bench should be provided with sufficient weight so that it cannot easily be used as a weapon.
In some courtrooms, particularly those involving misdemeanors, traffic, and parking violations, defendants either pay their fine or make arrangements to have the fine paid before being released. A secured cashier window, located outside the courtroom and accessed directly from the courtroom, aids in fine collection and reduces the need for an escort to the clerk's office. However, if the cashier's window is adjacent to the courtroom and litigation area, consideration should be given to the noise of conversations regarding payment arrangements, which may disturb court proceedings. Space will be required for computer terminal and printer, case files, and a cashier drawer, and in busy courts two windows may be required.
There should be limited access to the cashier station. The cashier should be seated behind a secured window with a telephone or intercom and connected to the security office with an alarm button. Electrical receptacles and cable conduits for a computer terminal, silent keyboard, and low-noise printer are also required.