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Facilities and Legal Reform Projects. Presentation for the Core Course on Legal and Judicial Reform for World Bank Staff January 11-14, 2005 . Gerald Thacker. Administrative Office, US Courts Assistant Director for Facilities, Security, and Administrative Services

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Facilities and Legal Reform Projects

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Facilities and Legal Reform Projects

Presentation for the

Core Course on Legal and Judicial Reform for World Bank Staff

January 11-14, 2005


Gerald Thacker

  • Administrative Office, US Courts

    • Assistant Director for Facilities, Security, and Administrative Services

  • US General Services Administration

    • Commissioner, Public Buildings Service

    • Head, Public Buildings Service, Atlanta Region

Gerald Thacker (cont.)

  • Consultant on Judicial support systems, primarily on court facilities program

    • Architectural firms

    • US Federal Courts Administrative Office

    • US State Courts

    • International Courts

      • World Bank

        • Venezuela, Guatemala, Philippines

      • USAID

        • Montenegro

The US Federal Courts Model

Not a good model for International courts

  • An adversarial system

  • Extensive use of juries

  • US not a unified system

  • Resource rich

  • Mature legal and internal governing system

  • Mature support system

  • Centrality of courthouses in US towns and cities

Facilities in Legal Reform Projects

  • A necessary tool

  • Appropriate Facilities are Essential to the Administration of Justice

    • Impact of Facilities on Efficient, Effective Judicial Operations

    • Independent Judiciary

  • Judicial Involvement is Essential to Obtaining Appropriate Facilities

Appropriate Facilities Contribute to Judicial Reform Objectives

  • Protection of human rights

  • Foundation of Economic Development

  • Independence of the judiciary

  • Timely, consistent, legally-correct resolution of legal disputes

  • Reduction of case backlogs

  • Transparent, open, responsive and accountable functioning of the courts

  • Capacity of the judiciary to formulate and implement changes in court organization, practices and performance over the longer term

Facilities in Legal Reform Projects

  • Courtroom

    • Adequate space for jurors

    • Adequate space for public observers

    • Separation of litigants for privacy

  • Courthouse

    • Adequate space for consolidated clerks office

    • Adequate space for records

    • Adequate space for evidence storage

    • Separated circulation patterns

    • Appropriate environment for automation

Integrated Courthouse Automation

  • Current and Future Needs

  • Design Implications/Costs and Alternatives

  • Courthouse

  • Courtroom

Automation in the Courthouse

  • Business Processes

  • Electronic Filing

  • Case Administration

  • Recordkeeping

  • Public Access

  • Security

  • Telecommunications

  • Building Operating/Fire & Life Safety

Automation in the Courtroom

  • Presentation of Testimony

  • Presentation of Evidence

  • Taking the Record

  • Access to Ancillary Information

  • In-Court Case Administration

  • Public Access

  • Security




Equipment connections

Outside Access

Control Switching





Sound Reinforcement


Lines of Sight


The Smart Courthouse

Facilities in Legal Reform Projects

  • Demonstration projects

  • Master Plans for System-wide upgrades

  • Allocation of resources

  • Alternatives

Facilities in Legal Reform Projects

Inevitably controls the project’s critical path

  • Long lead time

  • Relative expense

Facilities in Legal Reform Projects

  • Construction is the last choice

  • Not the First


  • Up to 2000 M2 : 9 to 14 months

    • 2 to 3 months to develop scope of work and contract for design

    • 3 months to design

    • 2 months to contract for construction

    • 6 months to construct

  • 10,000 M2 and up: 3 to 5 years

    • 3 to 6 months to develop scope of work and contract for design

    • 6 months to design

    • 3 months to contract for construction

    • 24 to 36 months to construct


  • Multiple projects can’t always proceed concurrently

    • Limits of courts

    • Limits of design and construction community

    • Availability of construction materials

    • Weather

    • Topography


  • Successful techniques

    • Limit major new construction

    • Design Build

    • Pattern designs

    • Multiple construction awards

Facilities in Legal Reform Projects

  • Just a tool

    • IT

    • Training

    • Human Resources

    • Case Management

    • Court organization/administration

    • Budgeting and financial management

    • Facilities

  • Supports other project goals—not a project goal itself

  • Facilities component should be tied directly to other project goals

Example: Linking Facilities Investments to Reform Goals

Facilities in Legal Reform Projects

Pre-Project Program Assessment

  • General condition of facilities to support reforms

  • Ability of court/government to implement facilities component

  • Current resource allocation

  • Support for on-going maintenance and operations

Comprehensive Facilities Program

  • Functional Assessment/Profile

  • Design Guide

  • Document Current Conditions

  • Long Range Facility Plans

  • Multi-year Capital Plan (prioritization)

  • Yearly Revisions to Long Range Facility Plans and Capital Plan

  • On-going maintenance and oversight

Design GuidePurpose and Use

  • Describes the unique characteristics of courthouses in the Judicial system

  • For Judges, court staff, architects, engineers

  • Directly applicable for new construction

  • Useful for renovations

Types of spaces


Typical furniture/sizes

Appropriate office sizes

Appropriate adjacencies

Any requirement different from other government buildings



Wall/floor finishes/telecommunications



Handicapped access

Façade design/appearance

Built-in furniture


Heating/air conditioning

Design GuideElements

Courthouse exterior

Interior spaces

Main Entrance/Public Lobby


President Judge’s office

President Judge’s secretary’s office

Judge’s office

Intake offices




Interior spaces (cont.)

Court Archive

Typists’ office

Accountant office

Special spaces

Housekeeper's office

Coffee Bar

Conference Room

Server/computer wiring room

Telephone switching room

Holding cell

Evidence/seized property room

Design GuideSpaces Described

Document Current conditions

Identify needed repairs

Determine future plans/needs

Create inventory of “projects”




New facilities

Estimate costs for each project

Long Range Facility Plans for Each Facility

Develop a Multi-Year (3-5) Capital Plan

  • Prioritize projects

  • Assign to budget years

    • Priorities

    • Costs

    • Available funding

  • Reorder/revise plan based on

    • Government action on previous budget year’s plan

    • New Information about facility needs

Suggested Criteria for Prioritizing

  • Health and safety of employees

  • Overall building structural integrity

  • Security of employees and judicial process

  • Operating efficiencies and economies

  • Caseload impacted

Priorities and Relative Importance

Facilities in Legal Reform Projects

  • Architecturally attractive

  • Prominent siting

  • Appropriate indigenous materials

  • Durable construction materials

  • Interior functionality and flexibility

  • Local participation in design

San Luis Indigenous Court

San Jose JP Court

Office Interior Libertidad

Natural Ventilation San Andrus

Some Useful Websites

  • Americans with Disabilities Act www.ada.gov

  • Serviceability/functionality

    • International Centre for Facilities www.icf-cebe.com

  • Standards, reference documents, etc.

    • Whole Building Design Guide www.wbdg.org

Thank you.


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