Courthouse Access Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

(Not yet adopted by the Committee)
July 20th and 21st, 2006
Boston, MA


July 20th (9:00 – 5:00)

Opening Remarks, Roll Call
Committee Co-Chairs Eve Hill and Sam Overton opened the meeting and took roll. The Committee approved the minutes from the May meeting in Miami.

Courthouse Tours
Kim Paarlberg summarized the Committee’s tour of the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse and the John Adams Courthouse on the previous day. She complimented access improvements made in the renovation of the historic Adams Courthouse, including the inclusion of a platform lift in the Supreme Court courtroom.

Welcome from Meeting Hosts
The Honorable Robert A. Mulligan, Chief Justice for Administration and Management of the Office of the Trial Court, and David Perini, Commissioner of the Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM), welcomed the Committee to Boston. Chief Justice Mulligan provided an overview of the Massachusetts trial court system, which is comprised of 110 courthouses, and noted two large courthouses under construction in Worcester and Plymouth County. He indicated that there are access issues in many existing courthouses, some of which are over 200 years old. Several major projects are planned in Lowell, Salem, Fall River, and Taunton and accessibility will be addressed in their design. Commissioner Perini outlined DCAM’s program overseeing the state’s system of courthouses and indicated that all courts are being surveyed for accessibility. He noted that DCAM’s experience has shown how important it is that access be addressed from the outset of a project, at the beginning of programming.

DCAM Presentation
Liz Minnis, Director of DCAM’s Court Facilities Unit, and Polly Welch, Senior Project Manager and Accessibility Specialist, provided a briefing on the court system in Massachusetts. Minnis explained the roles DCAM and the Administrative Office of the Trial Courts have overseeing courthouses and provided an overview of the facilities of this system. Welch described the work DCAM has done to address access in existing facilities and in the design of new facilities. She identified common access errors identified in the evaluation of facilities, such as incorrect ramps, protruding objects, and signage, and indicated that an ADA evaluation was developed to facilitate surveys. She also explained how DCAM plans to make use of the information the Committee is developing and listed lessons learned to date, such as the importance of staff training, and described challenges encountered, such as navigating differences between the ADA’s and the state’s access requirements and enforcement procedures. She described various efforts undertaken to address access in the design phase and in the survey of existing facilities.

The Committee met in subcommittee sessions and reconvened at approximately 4:30.

Overton reviewed the meeting schedule for the next day and indicated that additional time has been allocated for subcommittee breakouts. He also presented a proposed outline for the Committee’s report for discussion the next day.


July 21st (9:00 – 2:15)

Subcommittee Updates
Hill opened the meeting by asking for reports from chairs of the subcommittees on the progress made to date. Stephanie Vierra, reporting for the Education and Outreach Committee indicated that its work is almost complete and outlined remaining tasks concerning the development of educational courses for justices and designers and a general education document. She noted that the courses will rely on the final materials from the other two subcommittees and that the Education Subcommittee used some of its meeting time to review the Courtroom Subcommittee report and was preparing suggestions. Paarlberg briefed the committee on the progress of its final review which it planned to complete during the day’s breakout session. Cheryl Killam provided an update on the progress made on the Courthouse Subcommittee’s report and indicated that its final review is about 85% complete.

Deadlines and Committee Conference Call
Hill proposed deadlines for the submission of each subcommittee’s final report, which will be posted to the Committee’s website for review, and suggested a Committee conference call to discuss any remaining comments on the reports. The following dates were agreed to by the Committee:

Subcommittees met in breakout session until approximately 2:00.

Wrap Up
Overton summarized the dates for the completion of subcommittee reports and the full committee conference call agreed to in the morning session. He and Yanchulis thanked Welch for her help hosting the committee’s meeting and for providing input in subcommittee meetings.

The committee adjourned at 2:15.