Friday, January 12, 2018

Court Waiting Areas and Tech

One thing that courts do is to make people wait.  While technology can help to alleviate some of the waiting time for participants, we make the wait less stressful and perhaps even productive.  More below…


Because of my age, I am having to do more self-maintenance by visiting the doctor’s offices.  This in turn has precipitated thoughts about court waiting areas.  But before we discuss some specific ideas, I want to share this picture of the waiting area at the Mesa, Arizona Municipal Court.  It is best I have seen in more than 40 years visiting courts around the world.

Click on the image to enlarge

As you may perhaps see, this configuration is enabled by a Qmatic queue management system (the small black screens above each service window).  This allows persons to sit wherever they wish with the displays calling them to the window when it is their turn.

Another feature of this waiting area is that the lighting is set as a relief from the harsh outdoor desert sun that is the norm for Mesa more than 300 days per year.  Let’s just say that I exclaimed a sigh of relief when I entered that room.

The flat screens above the seating area can show different video content as well as the Qmatic queue.  And with today’s contentious political environment, I know that they don’t show cable news to the visitors.


A must for waiting areas today is a public WiFi hotspot.  This public network connection does not need to be connected directly to the court’s network.  Instead, I would suggest a separate public hotspot perhaps provided by your local cable or internet company.  That way if it breaks, it is their problem.

Electrical Power

During my time in the public, I see a lot of people with depleted cell phone batteries.  Let’s give them a place to recharge.  There are several options including standup desks, standalone pillars with electrical and USB connections, and even locking charging stations which may double to keep mobile phones out of the courtrooms.

Touch Screens

Perhaps another way to interact with the courthouse visitors is by large touch screens.  These are now very common in malls and airports.  You have a website.  Maybe this will help to reduce the time and number of persons waiting?

Children’s Play Areas

Providing a somewhat separate (perhaps some low sound-absorbing barriers) so that children can play while waiting would be an excellent service.  However, keeping the area both safe and clean is a challenge to our usual sparse court budgets. So, iPads in locking protective enclosures such as this one from Displays2go that can be attached to child size tables.  And at the end of the day, they are a spray and wipe to clean and disinfect.  And other drawing space such as whiteboards can also be used.

Text Paging

And last, why not borrow an idea from the restaurant industry that has developed systems to text the customer when their table is ready.  An example of such a system is shown at  Is there really much difference in letting people know they are ready in the courtroom?

What has your court done?  Please feel free share in the comments below.


  1. Great ideas and examples! In my last court, we had a children's play area, free wi-fi (do NOT connect to your court's systems--be completely independent), and comfortable seating, and magazines staff brought in that were good for short waiting times (like travel, science, sports related; NOT news/politically oriented material).

  2. James, I was lucky enough to be part of the technology portion of Mesa Municipal. One of the best technology deployments is the Long Beach courthouse, It was the same Architect and AV consultant as Mesa Municipal. It is one of the most welcoming public courthouse I have ever been part of. The California court system has had one of the best plans as a state for this and many of their new courthouses make the Public feel very welcome. The Superior court in Maricopa County also does a terrific job. If anyone ever needs great examples, I have had and have the pleasure working with many courts, consultants and architects throughout the US and get to see amazing evolutions.

  3. Even if the amenities suggested are provided, we ought to challenge the assumption that making people wait is necessary. It's understandable for witnesses as the time required, especially for the cross and redirect can't always be pre-determined, but shouldn't be for jurors. Even if the mentioned amenities are provided, significant wait times will be viewed as inefficiency. Doesn't leave a good impression.

  4. Thank you all for sharing. Michelle, yes, I completely agree. There are few things that I find as unsettling as seeing courts continue with mass calendar calls. With modern CMS and combined with the data that can be derived from digital recording systems much better time projections (and case weights) can be developed.