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ADA 2010 Standards

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231 and 808 Judicial Facilities and Courtrooms

Section 231 of the 2010 Standards adds requirements for accessible courtrooms, holding cells, and visiting areas.

Accessible Courtroom Stations. Sections 231.2, 808, 304, 305, and 902 of the 2010 Standards provide increased accessibility at courtroom stations. Clear floor space for a forward approach is required for all courtroom stations (judges´ benches, clerks´ stations, bailiffs´ stations, deputy clerks´ stations, court reporters´ stations, and litigants´ and counsel stations). Other applicable specifications include accessible work surface heights and toe and knee clearance.

Accessible Jury Boxes, Attorney Areas, and Witness Stands. Section 206.2.4 of the 2010 Standards requires, in new construction and alterations, at least one accessible route to connect accessible building or facility entrances with all accessible spaces and elements within the building or facility that are connected by a circulation path unless they are exempted by Exceptions 1 - 7 of section 206.2.3. Advisory 206.2.4 Spaces and Elements Exception 1 explains that the exception allowing raised courtroom stations to be used by court employees, such as judge´s benches, to be adaptable does not apply to areas of the courtroom likely to be used by members of the public such as jury areas, attorney areas, or witness stands. These areas must be on an accessible route at the time of initial construction or alteration.

Raised Courtroom Stations Not for Members of the Public. Section 206.2.4, Exception 1 of the 2010 Standards provides that raised courtroom stations that are used by judges, clerks, bailiffs, and court reporters will not have to provide full vertical access when first constructed or altered if they are constructed to be easily adaptable to provide vertical accessibility.

One commenter suggested that a sufficient number of accessible benches for judges with disabilities, in addition to requiring accessible witness stands and attorney areas, be required. The Department believes that the requirements regarding raised benches for judges are easily adaptable to provide vertical access in the event a judge requires an accessible bench. Section 206.2.4 of the 2010 Standards provides that raised courtroom stations used by judges and other judicial staff do not have to provide full vertical access when first constructed or altered as long as the required clear floor space, maneuvering space, and electrical service, where appropriate, is provided at the time of new construction or can be achieved without substantial reconstruction during alterations.

A commenter asserted that there is nothing inherent in clerks´ stations, jury boxes, and witness stands that require them to be raised. While it would, of course, be easiest to provide access by eliminating height differences among courtroom elements, the Department recognizes that accessibility is only one factor that must be considered in the design process of a functioning courtroom. The need to ensure the ability of the judge to maintain order, the need to ensure sight lines among the judge, the witness, the jury, and other participants, and the need to maintain the security of the participants all affect the design of the space. The Department believes that the 2010 Standards have been drafted in a way that will achieve accessibility without unduly constraining the ability of a designer to address the other considerations that are unique to courtrooms.

Commenters argued that permitting courtroom stations to be adaptable rather than fully accessible at the time of new construction likely will lead to discrimination in hiring of clerks, court reporters, and other court staff. The Department believes that the provisions will facilitate, not hinder, the hiring of court personnel who have disabilities. All courtroom work stations will be on accessible routes and will be required to have all fixed elements designed in compliance with the 2010 Standards. Elevated work stations for court employees may be designed to add vertical access as needed. Since the original design must provide the proper space and electrical wiring to install vertical access, the change should be easily accomplished.

231 Judicial Facilities

231.1 General. Judicial facilities shall comply with 231.

231.2 Courtrooms. Each courtroom shall comply with 808.

231.3 Holding Cells. Where provided, central holding cells and court-floor holding cells shall comply with 231.3.

231.3.1 Central Holding Cells. Where separate central holding cells are provided for adult male, juvenile male, adult female, or juvenile female, one of each type shall comply with 807.2. Where central holding cells are provided and are not separated by age or sex, at least one cell complying with 807.2 shall be provided.

231.3.2 Court-Floor Holding Cells. Where separate court-floor holding cells are provided for adult male, juvenile male, adult female, or juvenile female, each courtroom shall be served by one cell of each type complying with 807.2. Where court-floor holding cells are provided and are not separated by age or sex, courtrooms shall be served by at least one cell complying with 807.2. Cells may serve more than one courtroom.

231.4 Visiting Areas. Visiting areas shall comply with 231.4.

231.4.1 Cubicles and Counters. At least 5 percent, but no fewer than one, of cubicles shall comply with 902 on both the visitor and detainee sides. Where counters are provided, at least one shall comply with 904.4.2 on both the visitor and detainee sides.

EXCEPTION: The detainee side of cubicles or counters at non-contact visiting areas not serving holding cells required to comply with 231 shall not be required to comply with 902 or 904.4.2.

231.4.2 Partitions. Where solid partitions or security glazing separate visitors from detainees at least one of each type of cubicle or counter partition shall comply with 904.6.