New Courtroom Design

I’ve only been with the State three years, but in that time I’ve seen three new courtrooms built.  What amazes me is that of the three of them, only one really took the time to include the court reporter’s input (the Business Court – could be because I’m so darn pushy?  Maybe it’s that my family at the Business Court understand I’m working hard, too.  I don’t know, but I have a nice desk in the well, enough power, a comfy ergonomic chair, and the ability to MOVE my desk if I need to).

The other two were simply forgetful, at best. 

No clock.  No provision for a court reporter’s desk – anywhere, and certainly not built in, like the bench (and clerk and witness stand).  The power at the front of the bench is right in front of the clerk’s desk, on the opposite side of the room from the witness stand and jury box.  When I called to ask for an extension cord (because mine was only six feet long), they wanted me to sit over there.  To which I said, NO, I have to see the witness, and need to be as close as possible.  Really, telling me how to do my job?  Oy.   (Don’t worry, I didn’t say it to his face, but if they had just ASKED before finalizing the plans, all they would have had to do is move the power 15 feet the other way – of course, we still had to find a table for the reporter, and a chair… anyway).

The next courthouse is BEAUTIFUL.  All greenbuild stuff.  Working on LEED certification.  I was there on opening day.  You know how things are, punch list still being done, keycards being reset, codes being programmed, etc.  The main courtroom had no clock.  Had a lot of wasted space.  And, again, no provision for a court reporter’s desk.

Seems to me that sometimes people don’t realize the reality of court and that just because there are no court reporters on TV (or hidden somewhere far away, AS IF!) doesn’t mean we don’t exist.  I’m proud of my state for building all these fabulous new facilities, I just wish the pencil pushers understood what I and my colleagues do all day, because I can tell you, desks, chairs, and clocks are all necessities in my world.

Seems to me this is a call to arms, my friends, to stand up for our ability to be able to make a record in the courtroom.  Make friends with the folks who have a say in how the next new courtroom is going to be designed.  If we don’t protect the record, who will?