Courthouse Access Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

February 10 and 11, 2005
Phoenix, Arizona

February 10th (2:00 – 5:00)

Committee Co-Chairs Sam Overton and Eve Hill opened the meeting and outlined the afternoon's agenda. 

Addition of New Committee Members
The committee unanimously approved the addition of four new members: Judge Patricia Broderick, Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia; Patrick Cannon, State Director of the Michigan Commission of the Blind; H. Clifton Grandy, Senior Court Manager for the District of Columbia Courts; and Stephanie Vierra, Technical Editor for the Whole Building Design Guide.

Introduction of Subcommittee Chairs
Hill introduced the appointed co-chairs of the committee's three subcommittees: Gate Lew and Kim Paarlberg of the Courtroom Subcommittee; David Calvert and Cheryl Killam of the Courthouse Subcommittee; and Jim Reed and Stephanie Vierra of the Education and Outreach Subcommittee.

Tour of Phoenix Courthouses
Members shared impressions from their tour earlier in the day of two area courthouses: the City of Phoenix Municipal Courthouse and the Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. Courthouse.

Presentation on Accessibility Survey of Arizona Courthouses
Jim Reed gave a presentation on the results of an accessibility survey of 35 courthouses in the state of Arizona conducted by the Arizona State Bar Associations Task Force on Persons with Disabilities. This presentation included slides of various facilities surveyed and accessible design features.

Presentation on the Traditional Design of Courthouses and Courtrooms
Chang-Ming Yeh and Robert Schwartz briefed the committee on the history and tradition of courthouse and courtroom design and the rationale for standard design criteria. Their presentation depicted common design considerations for different types of courtrooms. Robert Schwartz utilized several courthouse design projects completed by his firm to illustrate planning and disabled access considerations.

A reception sponsored by the State Bar of Arizona was held after the meeting.


February 11th (9:00 – 4:30)

Presentation on Courthouse Projects
Architects Marlene Shade, Mike Crackel, and Luis Pitarque made presentations on courthouse projects designed by their respective firms. These presentations highlighted how accessibility in courtrooms and other spaces was addressed. S tandarddesign features of courtroom design were also highlighted.

Dates and Locations for Committee Meetings in 2005
Committee members discussed, voted on, and approved dates and locations for the remaining three committee meetings to be held in 2005:

Members also discussed committee involvement in a meeting by the American Institute of Architect's (AIA) Committee on Architecture for Justice scheduled for November 2 nd – 5 th in San Diego . At Co-Chair Overton's suggestion, members agreed to organize a delegation of members to represent the committee at this conference and provide a briefing on the committee's work.

Subcommittee Meetings
Each of the committee's three subcommittees met in separate session from 11:00 to 3:45.

Reports on Subcommittee Meetings
Subcommittee representatives Gate Lew, Marlene Shade, and Stephanie Vierra briefed the full committee on the results of the afternoon meeting of their respective subcommittees:


Courtroom Subcommittee Report

February 11, 2005
10:30 a.m. through 3:45 p.m.


Subcommittee Members Present:

Gate Lew, Co-chair

Kimberly Paarlberg, Co-chair

Robert Andrukonis

Phil Hohenlohe

Mike Crackel

Janet Blizard

Warrick Graham

Tom Shield

Greg Harmon

Don Birdsall

Chang-Ming Yeh

Bob Schwartz

Tom Williams

Kleo King

Rocco Iacullo

Pat Broderick

Eve Hill

Identify Resources:


The committee identified the following resources -

Committee members will continue to identify additional resources and provide this information to the committee along with their own summary of the resource information. Tom Williams informed the committee that GSA will require compliance with ADA/ABA Guidelines effective April, 2005. In view of the 2 year time frame for the committee to do its work, it was decided that the reference for requirements would be the ADA/ABA Guidelines as the reference for requirements. Main differences with current UFAS and ADAAG will be identified for the committee by Tom Williams.

The initial concentration will be on the built environment in new construction. The idea is that existing buildings should eventually meet new construction requirements, so by setting the initial goal, it should be easier to then identify solutions for common existing building problems.

Areas of Concern:

The committee identified the following areas as within their anticipated scope of work–

Check U.S. Court Design Guide for additional associated areas.

Courtroom Types:


Possible Solution Formats:

Format for solutions:

Culture vs. Requirements

Need to clarify adaptable vs. accessible solutions:


Accessible –

Need to encourage the idea of Universal Design as part of Accessible design.

Common Problems:



Attorney/Witness conference room –

Gallery –

Spectator Rail –

Counsel Table –

Lecterns –

Jury Box –

Judges bench –

Clerk's station –

Witness box –

Jury deliberation room –

Accessible route throughout the courtroom


Accessible route between courtroom and restricted areas -

Holding cells –

Committee Continued Involvement/Deadlines:

March 1, 2005–

April 1, 2005 -

May 5 and 6, 2005 -

Education Subcommittee Meeting Minutes

Friday, February 11, 2005
Hyatt Regency, Phoenix, AZ 

Respectfully submitted by Co-Chairs:
Stephanie Vierra, Steven Winter Associates, Inc., and Jim Reed, Arizona State Bar

Additional Members Present in Meeting:
Steven Hollon, Supreme Court of Ohio
Frederick Horn, Presiding Judge, Superior Court of California
Maureen McCloskey, Paralyzed Veterans of America
Ed Myers, Arizona State Bar Committee on Persons with Disabilities in the Legal Profession
Paula Pearlman, Western Law Center for Disability Rights
Luis Pitarque, HDR
Denis Pratt, Public Member, U.S. Access Board
Susan Roberts, Judge, Tenth Judicial Circuit of Florida
Nick Sudzina, Tenth Judicial Circuit of Florida
Roy S. Wynn, Jr., National Association for Court Management (NACM)

Open Discussion

The group engaged in a lively discussion around obstacles and roadblocks to effective implementation of the “Access Board Guidelines for Courthouses.” All agreed that education was needed at a variety of levels andtargeted at a variety of audiences to address the problems which were identified as including:

1) Judges' judicial preference/influence re: courtroom design
2) Money
3) Inadequate information re:
    a) needs of different disabilities and representation of different communities
    b) lack of consumer involvement
4) General interpretation of the guidelines
5) Conflicts among competing priorities
    a) safety/security (screening, reinforced rooms, etc)
    b) money or budget

Approaches to overcoming the obstacles to effective implementation of the guidelines were discussed including:

1) Talking with representative organizations
a) Various disabilities groups
b) Independent living centers
2) Address presumptions
    a) height issues
    b) safety
    c) money/financial concerns
    d) space/real estate
3) Approach from a Universal Design, Performance-Based, and/or Integrated Design perspective
4) Identify who the user is and include in designbrlanning process and include full access needs early in process
5) Identify overlap areas where better general education cantake place at the same time with several groups involved in the design process

The phases of the design/construction process were outlined for everyone's understanding and to identify potential overlap and problem areas.

Phases include:

Operations and Maintenance

Questions arose concerning where the accessibility need is defined within that process and how the funding works. It was noted that some design firms work closely with all users to identify needs, while others do not. It was stated that better general education could take place with contractors but should happen in the design phase instead of during construction.

Goal Statement

An overall goal of the Sub-Committee was discussed and agreed upon as the following:

“Increase awareness and understanding of courtroom/courthouse accessible design and implementation.” This goal statement will be utilized throughout the development and implementation of all educational and outreach programs undertaken as part of this Subcommittee's efforts.


Defining Audiences

A preliminary list of target audiences (to develop educational and outreach programs for) was developed which included:

The group then prioritized, combined, and refined the list to focus on 3 major groups/audiences:

  1. Court Staff/Judges/ Employees

  2. Funding Authorities
  3. Design Community

Proposed Outreach/Education for Target Audiences

The group then examined each list in detail and discussed appropriate education and outreach strategies to reach the audience effectively:

1) Court Staff/Judges/Employees
1a) Judicial Associations and Leadership Groups (i.e. NACM, etc.), including:

In Arizona – Federal Magistrate Lawrence Anderson uses a wheelchair and is a potential resource

Note: in the late 1980's, some task forces within and among some of these kinds of judicial organizations were created, with most aspects of disabilities grouped into them. CCJ and COSCA have a joint committee, presenting outreach possibilities; discussion ensued regarding getting on a COSCA agenda for a COSCA conference. Suggestion to contact Chief Justice Ron Moon form Hawaii State Supreme Court, to get spot on agenda.

Using conferences as distribution points for hard copies of accessibility materials, i.e., in packets, does not require a presentation at the conference.

The proposed tone and approach for this group are: Usability, Regulatory, Universal Design, and Performance-Based Perspective.


2) Funding Authorities: State legislature, county commissioners, municipalities, feds
2a) Building owners, those who lease the buildings, GSA & GSA regions

3) Design Community

Tone and approach: combination of technical and visual – focus on “USABILITY” and a bit of regulatory discussion, sensitizing and giving information.

Using Design Awards, such as getting Committee members on such award committees, was discussed.

Again, making available low cost alternative suggestions were discussed as important. Different configurations of lifts, ramps, etc.

Building a large database available online, with photos from courts around the country, was discussed. Also, the use of digital photos to send inquiries and requests for ideas and assistance to the U.S. Access Board was discussed.

Follow-up Communications and Schedule

The group agreed to communicate via email and conference call between in-person meetings in order to make progress and assign tasks efficiently over the course of this Committee's calendar. The group planned a conference call for March 2 nd , 2005 at 11:30am ET. S. Vierra and J. Reed will work with the Access Board Staff to set up the conference call and coordinate call agenda.

ACTION ITEM: All members: Identify conference schedules/appropriate contacts within identified audience groups

ACTION ITEM: All members: Compile a list of existing resources to consider for educational/outreach purposes


Courthouse Access Subcommittee

February 11, 2005 (Phoenix)


David Calvert, Co-Chair, David P. Calvert, P.A.
Cheryl Killam, Co-Chair, New Hampshire Governor's Commission on Disability
John Biechman, National Fire Protection Association
Marcia Finisdore, Self-Help for Hard of Hearing People
Marlene Shade, PSA Dewberry
H. Clifton Grandy, D.C. Courts
Eve Hill, Western Law Center
Katie McGuinness, Access Planner from Boston
Mark Lichter, Paralyzed Veterans of America
James Beight, AIA


After much discussion, the subcommittee determined that it would focus only on those areas of the courthouse that are unique to the courts rather than those areas that are present in all public buildings. Excluded, therefore, are such areas as daycare centers, alarms, building egress and areas of rescue assistance, cafeterias, etc.


To provide a resource of best practices for new construction, alterations for existing and historical courthouses, courthouses not contemplating alterations, and finally, program access for those courthouse that cannot provide physical access.


The Subcommittee will focus on the following areas, all of which will consider mobility and communication:

Priority One:

Priority Two


The subcommittee determined that it would make no attempt to conduct a comprehensive survey but would accumulate photographs of the best (and worst) practices of dealing with accessibility in the Priority One and Priority Two areas by utilizing the following resources:


Our end product will be a matrix representing “Best Practices” with graphic and photographic examples of each. For each area listed in Priorities One and Two, the matrix will include: