Drive-thru window, movable jury box featured in courthouse redesign projects

Drive-thru window, movable jury box featured in courthouse redesign projects

May 15, 2024 -- Courts are rethinking courthouse spaces and driving innovation. To respond to challenges posed by COVID-19, courts quickly embraced technology and launched innovative and novel initiatives to improve access to trials, court proceedings, and services.

The challenge

NCSC invited courts to share these innovations in the Court Space Innovation reDesign Challenge, which recently recognized 12 projects from Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia.

"The reDesign Challenge underscores the critical need to adapt court spaces for new ways that courts are conducting business and serving the public," said NCSC Principal Court Management Consultant Nathan Hall. "These projects are models for promising new approaches, inspiring and encouraging other courts to implement similar innovations."

Novel service initiatives

One Washington court faced a unique challenge of reducing both visitor navigation and security issues in a circular courthouse. The proposed solution — a drive-thru window and kiosk service. This innovative approach streamlines customer service by allowing the public to obtain information, make payments, file cases and record requests, and submit juror summons paperwork, all without ever leaving their car.

In Minnesota, a large conference room was transformed into a flexible, multipurpose courtroom. This space features modular furniture and a movable jury box that makes the room adaptable for various hearing types and sizes.

A Utah court reimagined an underutilized courtroom space and created a community resource center that includes virtual hearing pods for attending court proceedings, public access workstations, and meeting spaces for appointments with public defenders, service providers, and court staff.

Showcasing innovation

The reDesign Challenge focused on four main themes:

  • Rethinking Adjudication Spaces
  • Enhancing Office and Public Services Environments
  • Implementing Courtroom Technology
  • Renovating Historical Courts

Projects featured a range of design improvements such as consolidating and centralizing services, developing satellite remote appearance locations, implementing hybrid and virtual hearing technologies, and improving public access to services. Participating teams also illustrated how courthouses can be restructured by reallocating and converting underutilized space and remodeling historic courtrooms for modern court operations.

Guided by the CCJ/COSCA Pandemic Rapid Response Team, the challenge was funded by a State Justice Institute grant.

Beyond efficiency

Not only did the reDesign Challenge encourage courts to improve efficiency. It also provided an opportunity for increased collaboration between courts across the country. Last year, project teams participated in an in-person workshop that featured activities based on the challenge’s four main themes. Hall said this type of idea and information sharing helps courts achieve greater accessibility and effectiveness, along with a modern approach to delivering justice.

Learn more about the projects by visiting the NCSC website at

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