Waiting Areas

Fairfax, Virginia Courthouse Waiting Area

Public waiting areas should be easily accessible from the main public entrances. Seating areas should be provided, but should not obstruct traffic patterns. In addition to a lobby area near the main entrance, large hallways or special waiting rooms, with comfortable seating, in which visitors may wait and attorneys can meet with their clients, should be planned near courtrooms. In planning and furnishing these spaces consideration should be given to minimizing noise transmission from the waiting area to the courtroom. Public restrooms, pay telephones, and water fountains should be conveniently located in or near these areas. Basic first-aid services may be provided.

Waiting space needs vary with the type of court being served. High volume courts, such as traffic and arraignment courts, will generally require more public waiting space than trial courts. A public address system facilitates moving people from the waiting area to the courtrooms at the appropriate times. Because many of their hearings are private, domestic relations or family courts often require larger waiting areas to accommodate persons who need to wait outside the courtroom for their hearing. To be effective, waiting areas must be planned to accommodate the court’s busiest days. Large numbers of people with no place to wait can create confusion in the courthouse and present a security and safety problem.

Offices such as the clerk’s should include open space to accommodate waiting lines and limited seating on the public side of the counter.