This is the accessible text file for GAO report number GAO-02-341 
entitled 'Courthouse Construction: Information on Courtroom Sharing' 
which was released on April 12, 2002. 

This text file was formatted by the U.S. General Accounting Office 
(GAO) to be accessible to users with visual impairments, as part of a 
longer term project to improve GAO products' accessibility. Every 
attempt has been made to maintain the structural and data integrity of 
the original printed product. Accessibility features, such as text 
descriptions of tables, consecutively numbered footnotes placed at the 
end of the file, and the text of agency comment letters, are provided 
but may not exactly duplicate the presentation or format of the 
printed version. The portable document format (PDF) file is an exact 
electronic replica of the printed version. We welcome your feedback. 
Please E-mail your comments regarding the contents or accessibility 
features of this document to Webmaster@gao.gov. 

This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright 
protection in the United States. It may be reproduced and distributed 
in its entirety without further permission from GAO. Because this work 
may contain copyrighted images or other material, permission from the 
copyright holder may be necessary if you wish to reproduce this 
material separately. 

United States General Accounting Office: 
GAO: 

Report to Congressional Requesters: 

April 2002: 

Courthouse Construction: 

Information on Courtroom Sharing: 

GAO-02-341: 

Contents: 

Letter: 

Results in Brief: 

Background: 

Judiciary Policies on Courtroom Sharing: 

Extent of and Judges' Views on Courtroom Sharing at Selected 
Facilities: 

Courtroom Sharing in Future Courthouse Construction Projects: 

AOC Comments and Our Evaluation: 

Scope and Methodology: 

Appendix I: Judicial Conference Policy Statement: 

Appendix II: Information From the Twelve Circuit Judicial Councils' 
Policy Statements Related to Courtroom Sharing: 

Appendix III: Information from Active and Senior District Judges in 
Ten Facilities Where Courtroom Sharing Was Occurring: 

Appendix IV: Comments from the Administrative Office of the U.S. 
Courts: 

GAO Comments: 

Tables: 

Table 1: Information on 11 Facilities Where Courtroom Sharing Was 
Occurring: 

Table 2: Types of District Judges Sharing Courtrooms on a Regular 
Basis at 11 Facilities: 

Table 3: District Judges and Courtrooms at 19 Project Locations with 
Planned Courtroom Sharing: 

Table 4: District Judges and Courtrooms at 14 Project Locations with 
No Planned Courtroom Sharing: 

[End of section] 

United States General Accounting Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

April 12, 2002: 

The Honorable Steven C. LaTourette: 
Chairman:
The Honorable Jerry Costello: 
Ranking Democratic Member: 
Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency 
Management: 
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure: 
House of Representatives: 

This report responds to your request for information on the 
judiciary's efforts to have district judges share courtrooms, 
especially district judges with senior status, also known as senior 
judges.[Footnote 1] As agreed, our specific objectives were to (1) 
examine the judiciary's courtroom sharing policies for senior judges, 
(2) obtain information about the extent to which senior judges are 
currently sharing courtrooms and their experiences with courtroom 
sharing, and (3) determine the judiciary's efforts to explore the 
potential for senior judges to share courtrooms in future courthouse 
construction projects. 

Over the last few years, various members of Congress and the 
administration have become increasingly concerned that district judge 
trial courtrooms may be underutilized and that more courtrooms than 
needed have been, and continue to be, constructed. The judiciary 
continues to believe that it should retain its one-judge, one-
courtroom policy for active district judges because of the potential 
negative effects courtroom sharing may have on effective judicial 
administration. However, the judiciary did determine that courtroom 
sharing may be possible among some senior judges. Given this, you 
wanted updated information on the status of courtroom sharing in the 
judiciary by senior district judges. To meet our objectives, we 
examined existing policies on courtroom sharing for all district 
courts, obtained information about district judges' courtroom sharing 
experiences at locations where courtroom sharing was occurring, and 
reviewed courtroom needs assessment studies done by the judiciary for 
33 proposed projects in the judiciary's 5-year construction plan to 
identify where courtroom sharing was planned. On March 5, 2002, we 
received written comments on a draft of this report from the 
Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOC)the judiciary's 
administrative arm. These comments are discussed later in this letter. 

Results in Brief: 

The judiciary's current policies recognize that senior district judges 
with reduced caseloads are the most likely candidates to share 
courtrooms. Some active and senior judges were sharing courtrooms at 
facilities in some locations. However, these judges were sharing 
courtrooms primarily because there were not enough courtrooms to 
accommodate these judges. Active judges at these facilities, along 
with some senior judges, generally opposed courtroom sharing because, 
in their view, it often interferes with the courts' business and can 
adversely affect the effective administration of justice. The 
judiciary has plans for some senior judges to share courtrooms in 
future courthouse construction projects. However, given the 
judiciary's belief in the strong relationship between ensured 
courtroom availability and the administration of justice, its overall 
concerns about the workability of courtroom sharing, and the wide 
discretion given to circuits and districts in deciding when and how 
courtroom sharing may be implemented, it appears that a significant 
amount of courtroom sharing will not occur in the foreseeable future, 
even among senior judges. AOC generally agreed with the information 
contained in this report. 

Background: 

The judiciary has a total of 94 federal districts located throughout 
the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the 
territories of Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana 
Islands. The 94 districts are organized into 12 regional circuits, 
each of which has a court of appeals, also known as a circuit court, 
which hears appeals from its district courts. To help administer the 
operations of its circuit and district courts, each circuit has a 
judicial council whose membership includes the chief circuit judge as 
chair of the council and an equal number of other circuit and district 
judges. Among other things, the council is authorized to issue orders 
and establish policies to help ensure that the circuit and district 
courts function as effectively as possible so that they can provide 
the public with the effective and expeditious administration of 
justice. The Judicial Conference, which is chaired by the chief 
justice of the United States and includes the chief judge of each 
judicial circuit and a district judge from each circuit, is the 
judiciary's national policy-making body. 

The judiciary and the General Services Administration (GSA) have 
embarked on a multibillion-dollar courthouse construction initiative 
to address the space needs of the federal district courts and related 
agencies. The judiciary's most recent 5-year construction plan for 
fiscal years 2002 through 2006 identified new courthouses or annexes 
that are to be built to accommodate new judgeships created because of 
increasing caseloads and to replace obsolete courthouses occupied by 
existing judges. The plan identified a total of 45 proposed courthouse 
construction projects that are expected to cost a total of about $2.6 
billion. This courthouse construction initiative includes plans to 
construct hundreds of new district judge trial courtrooms to replace 
inadequate facilities and to accommodate future increases in federal 
judgeships. The results of our past work on courthouse construction 
have shown that district judges' trial courtrooms may be 
underutilized, and that trial courtrooms are expensive to build. 
[Footnote 2] 

For several years, there has been much debate about whether district 
judges could share courtrooms—operate in a courthouse with fewer 
courtrooms than judges—to save taxpayer dollars without compromising 
effective judicial administration. There has been a belief among 
various stakeholders outside the judiciary, including some 
subcommittees and members of Congress as well as the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB), that courtroom sharing may be possible 
and could lead to cost savings. Trial courtrooms, because of their 
size and configuration, are expensive to build and constructing any 
unneeded courtrooms would waste taxpayer dollars.[Footnote 3] On the 
other hand, the judiciary believes that the availability of a trial 
courtroom is an integral part of the judicial process because judges 
need the flexibility to resolve cases efficiently. The judiciary and 
other key stakeholders believe that the judiciary should retain its 
one-judge, one-courtroom policy for active district judges to avoid 
ineffective judicial administration. However, the judiciary has 
recognized that courtroom sharing may be possible among visiting 
judges-—judges from other locations who temporarily use courtrooms-—
and senior judges who have reduced caseloads. According to AOC, as of 
September 2001, the judiciary had a total of 906 district judges, 
which consisted of 592 active judges and 314 senior judges. 

Judiciary Policies on Courtroom Sharing: 

In March 1997, the Judicial Conference issued a policy statement that 
discussed courtroom sharing by district judges and provided guidance 
for determining the number of courtrooms needed in courthouse 
facilities. The statement addressed three main topics: (1) courtrooms 
for active judges, (2) factors to be considered in deciding whether 
senior judges who do not draw caseloads requiring substantial use of 
courtrooms could share courtrooms, and (3) planning assumptions to be 
used in determining the number of courtrooms needed in a facility. As 
part of its statement, the Judicial Conference recognized the 
potential for courtroom sharing by some senior judges and asked 
circuit councils to consider the number of years a senior judge will 
need a courtroom after taking senior status for which the Judicial 
Conference recommended a 10-year time frame. However, the policy was 
very clear that senior judges who had caseloads that required 
substantial use of courtrooms should have their own courtrooms and 
that courtroom sharing for any district judge—-active or senior-—is 
not required. According to AOC officials, the Judicial Conference 
requested that each circuit judicial council develop a policy on 
sharing courtrooms by senior district judges.[Footnote 4] The Judicial 
Conference policy statement encouraged circuit judicial councils to 
develop policies on courtroom sharing only for senior judges whose 
caseloads do not require substantial use of courtrooms. 

The Judicial Conference policy clearly stated that one courtroom must 
be provided for each active judge. Also, the Judicial Conference 
policy recommended that senior judges retain courtrooms for 10 years 
after taking senior status because they usually have caseloads 
sufficient to keep their own courtrooms. Senior judges with more than 
10 years in senior status appeared to be the primary candidates for 
courtroom sharing. As of September 2001, 118 of the judiciary's 314 
senior judges had more than 10 years in senior status. Therefore, 
about 38 percent of the total number of senior judges would be 
considered the primary candidates for courtroom sharing. 

Much of the Judicial Conference policy is devoted to a discussion of 
the five factors that should be used in deciding whether some senior 
judges could share courtrooms and the nine assumptions for circuit 
councils to consider in determining the number of courtrooms needed in 
their courthouse facilities. For example, one factor was the judicial 
workload in terms of the number and types of cases anticipated to be 
handled by each judge. Another factor is the number of years each 
judge is likely to be located at the facility. Some of the 
assumptions, which primarily relate to caseload projections and the 
time frames in which replacement, senior, and new judges will occupy 
the facility, included (1) the percentage of the total district's 
caseload handled at a particular location and (2) the number of years 
before replacement judges will be on board after a judge takes senior 
status. The full text of the Judicial Conference policy, including the 
five factors and nine assumptions, is contained in appendix I. 

In 1997 and 1998, after the Judicial Conference policy took effect, 
the 12 circuit councils issued their own policy statements related to 
the courtroom sharing issue. Our analysis showed that like the 
Judicial Conference policy, all of the circuit councils' policies 
recognized that senior judges who do not draw caseloads requiring 
substantial use of courtrooms would be candidates for courtroom 
sharing. 

Eight of the 12 circuit councils' policy statements made reference to 
and used much of the language in the Judicial Conference policy, 
particularly the language related to the various factors to be used in 
deciding when senior judges should share courtrooms and the 
assumptions that should be considered in determining the number of 
courtrooms needed in courthouse facilities. Some of the eight circuit 
councils' policy statements also included general discussions of their 
approaches to courtroom sharing. For example, the first circuit 
council policy stated that the council had a strong preference that, 
wherever feasible, each senior judge should be given a courtroom 
dedicated to his or her use. However, the first circuit council went 
on to say that it intended to comply with Judicial Conference policy 
regarding senior judges sharing courtrooms, where appropriate.
The eleventh circuit council took a different approach and explained 
that the methods employed by district courts for courtroom sharing by 
senior judges who do not draw caseloads requiring substantial use of 
courtrooms varied greatly, not only throughout the judiciary, but also 
within the eleventh circuit. Given this, the district courts were in 
the best position to formulate courtroom sharing policies that would 
be most applicable to their local operations. 

According to AOC, as of September 2001, one of the nine district 
courts within the eleventh circuit—the Southern District of Florida—
had developed its own local courtroom sharing policy. This policy 
stated that each senior judge will be allowed a courtroom unless 
courtroom use hours and cases assigned to that judge fall below the 
caseload requirements within a 5-year period for substantial use of a 
courtroom. If the senior judge does not maintain a caseload requiring 
substantial use of a courtroom in the 5-year period, the courtroom 
will be made available for others to use. The policy also stated that 
on the basis of historical data, senior judges are expected to occupy 
a courtroom for 15 years after taking senior status and that this time 
frame should be used for planning for courtroom needs. AOC was unaware 
of any other district court policies on courtroom sharing. 

The policy statements for the four remaining circuit councils—-
including D.C. and the fifth, seventh, and eighth councils-—were not 
as detailed as the other eight circuit councils' statements. The four 
circuit councils primarily issued brief policy statements that 
generally described their positions on courtroom sharing. For example, 
the D.C. circuit council policy basically stated that courtrooms 
should be provided for each active judge and each senior judge who 
requires substantial use of a courtroom and that courtroom sharing 
will be achieved on a collegial basis. The fifth, seventh, and eighth 
circuit councils also issued policy statements that recognized the 
need for senior judges to maintain courtrooms if such judges continued 
to perform full judicial assignments. The fifth and eighth circuit 
councils' policy statements go on to say that, when appropriate, the 
circuit council may direct the joint use of courtrooms and adjunct 
facilities as dockets and other circumstances warrant. The seventh 
circuit council stated in its policy that decisions as to the 
assignment of chambers and a courtroom for a senior judge who performs 
less than a full judicial assignment shall be made by that judge's 
court. According to the seventh circuit council's policy, a full 
judicial assignment means that the senior judge continues to be 
assigned and perform the same work, both casework and other 
assignments, as an active judge of the same court. 

The Judicial Conference and the circuit councils' policies did not use 
actual courtroom use data-—how often and for what purpose courtrooms 
are being used-—as criteria for deciding whether senior judges should 
share courtrooms. Instead, the policies used judges' caseloads and 
substantial use of a courtroom as a primary basis for making decisions 
about senior judges sharing courtrooms. According to AOC, under 
statute, the decision as to whether senior judges should share 
courtrooms is left to the discretion of each circuit judicial council. 
More information from the 12 circuit councils' courtroom sharing 
policy statements is included in appendix II. 

Extent of and Judges' Views on Courtroom Sharing at Selected 
Facilities: 

Because the judiciary believes that courtrooms are an integral 
resource for the administration of justice, judicial policies do not 
generally encourage widespread courtroom sharing. However, some 
sharing was occurring in existing facilities among some active and 
senior district judges. As of December 2001, our analysis of AOC data 
showed that district judges were sharing courtrooms in 11 facilities. 
According to AOC, there are a total of 337 federal district court 
facilities nationwide, but not all of these facilities would be 
candidates for courtroom sharing. For example, some facilities may 
have only one judge. Some of the facilities where courtroom sharing 
was occurring were located in major metropolitan areas, such as 
Brooklyn, New York, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while others were 
in smaller cities such as Benton, Illinois, and Fayetteville, Arkansas 
Table 1 identifies the locations of the 11 facilities, the number of 
district courtrooms in these facilities, and the number and types of 
district judges at these facilities. 

Table 1: Information on 11 Facilities Where Courtroom Sharing Was 
Occurring: 

Number and types of district judges at facilities where courtroom 
sharing was occurring: 

Circuit: First; 
Location of facility: San Juan, Puerto Rico; 
Number of district courtrooms in facility: 1; 
Active district judges: 0; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 3; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 0; 
Total number of active and senior district judges: 3. 

Circuit: Second; 
Location of facility: Brooklyn, New York; 
Number of district courtrooms in facility: 10; 
Active district judges: 10; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 5; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 0; 
Total number of active and senior district judges: 15. 

Circuit: Third; 
Location of facility: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 
Number of district courtrooms in facility: 29; 
Active district judges: 18; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 7; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 5; 
Total number of active and senior district judges: 30. 

Circuit: Sixth; 
Location of facility: Nashville, Tennessee; 
Number of district courtrooms in facility: 6; 
Active district judges: 4; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 3; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 0; 
Total number of active and senior district judges: 7. 

Circuit: Seventh; 
Location of facility: Benton, Illinois; 
Number of district courtrooms in facility: 1; 
Active district judges: 1; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 1; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 0; 
Total number of active and senior district judges: 2. 

Circuit: Eighth; 
Location of facility: Fayetteville, Arkansas; 
Number of district courtrooms in facility: 1; 
Active district judges: 1; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 1; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 0; 
Total number of active and senior district judges: 2. 

Circuit: Eighth; 
Location of facility: Rapid City, South Dakota; 
Number of district courtrooms in facility: 2; 
Active district judges: 1; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 1; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 1; 
Total number of active and senior district judges: 3. 

Circuit: Eighth; 
Location of facility: Sioux City, Iowa; 
Number of district courtrooms in facility: 1; 
Active district judges: 1; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 1; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 0; 
Total number of active and senior district judges: 2. 

Circuit: Tenth; 
Location of facility: Salt Lake City, Utah; 
Number of district courtrooms in facility: 7; 
Active district judges: 4; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 4; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 0; 
Total number of active and senior district judges: 8. 

Circuit: Eleventh; 
Location of facility: Jacksonville, Florida; 
Number of district courtrooms in facility: 3; 
Active district judges: 3; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 1; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 1; 
Total number of active and senior district judges: 5. 

Circuit: Eleventh; 
Location of facility: Orlando, Florida; 
Number of district courtrooms in facility: 4; 
Active district judges: 4; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 1; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 1; 
Total number of active and senior district judges: 6. 

Circuit: Total; 
Number of district courtrooms in facility: 65; 
Active district judges: 47; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 28; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 8; 
Total number of active and senior district judges: 83. 

Source: Data from AOC and 11 facilities where courtroom sharing was 
occurring. 

[End of table] 

The facilities varied in the types of district judges involved in 
courtroom sharing. For example, some facilities had active judges, 
senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status, and senior 
judges with more than 10 years in senior status sharing courtrooms, 
while others had only senior judges with 10 years or less in senior 
status sharing courtrooms. Table 2 shows the types of district judges 
who were sharing courtrooms on a regular basis at the 11 facilities. 

Table 2: Types of District Judges Sharing Courtrooms on a Regular 
Basis at 11 Facilities: 

Types of district judges sharing courtrooms: 

Circuit: First; 
Location of facility: San Juan, Puerto Rico; 
Active judges: [Empty]; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: [Check]; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 
[Empty]. 

Circuit: Second; 
Location of facility: Brooklyn, New York; 
Active judges: [Check]; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: [Check]; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 
[Empty]. 

Circuit: Third; 
Location of facility: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 
Active judges: [Check]; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: [Check]; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 
[Check]. 

Circuit: Sixth; 
Location of facility: Nashville, Tennessee; 
Active judges: [Empty]; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: [Check]; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 
[Empty]. 

Circuit: Seventh; 
Location of facility: Benton, Illinois; 
Active judges: [Check]; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: [Check]; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 
[Empty]. 

Circuit: Eighth; 
Location of facility: Fayetteville, Arkansas; 
Active judges: [Empty]; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: [Check]; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 
[Empty]. 

Circuit: Eighth; 
Location of facility: Rapid City, South Dakota; 
Active judges: [Empty]; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: [Check]; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 
[Empty]. 

Circuit: Eighth; 
Location of facility: Sioux City, Iowa; 
Active judges: [Empty]; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: [Check]; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 
[Empty]. 

Circuit: Tenth; 
Location of facility: Salt Lake City, Utah; 
Active judges: [Empty]; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: [Check]; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 
[Empty]. 

Circuit: Eleventh; 
Location of facility: Jacksonville, Florida; 
Active judges: [Check]; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: [Check]; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 
[Check]. 

Circuit: Eleventh; 
Location of facility: Orlando, Florida; 
Active judges: [Check]; 
Senior district	judges with 10 years or less in senior status: [Check]; 
Senior district	judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 
[Check]. 
	
Source: Data from AOC and 11 facilities where courtroom sharing was 
occurring. 

[End of table] 

At the 11 facilities, courtroom sharing was occurring because active 
and senior district judges have to operate in facilities with fewer 
district courtrooms than district judges. For example, at the Brooklyn 
facility, courtroom sharing among judges was occurring because of an 
increase in the number of judges at the facility and the partial 
demolition of the courthouse complex in preparation for a new 
courthouse. Another example involved the San Juan facility where, 
because of space limitations, only one district courtroom was built to 
accommodate three senior judges. According to AOC officials, 
construction projects are currently planned or under way at the 
locations where active judges were sharing courtrooms. 

Available data show that in 7 of the 11 facilities, each facility had 
one less courtroom than district judges. For example, the Nashville 
facility had a total of 6 district courtrooms to accommodate 7 active 
and senior judges. At the remaining 4 facilities, the differences 
between the total number of courtrooms and the total number of 
district judges were greater. Specifically, the Brooklyn facility had 
a total of 10 district courtrooms to accommodate 15 active and senior 
judges; the San Juan facility had 1 district courtroom for 3 senior 
district judges; Jacksonville had 3 district courtrooms for 5 active 
and senior judges; and Orlando had 4 courtrooms for 6 active and 
senior judges. 

The data also showed that 4 facilities had a total of 8 senior judges 
with more than 10 years in senior status and that 5 of these judges 
were in the Philadelphia facility. The 8 judges make up a small part 
of the 118 senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status who 
were on board as of September 2001. According to AOC officials, there 
are reasons why some senior judges with more than 10 years in senior 
status are not sharing courtrooms. For example, although the Judicial 
Conference policy recommends that senior judges with more than 10 
years in senior status would be the primary candidates for sharing 
courtrooms, such sharing is generally not needed in facilities that 
have a sufficient number of courtrooms to accommodate judges. Also, 
some senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status may not 
require the use of a courtroom. The officials pointed out that if the 
large number of judicial vacancies was filled, it is likely that more 
of these senior judges would be sharing courtrooms. According to AOC 
officials, data to show which of these senior judges have their own 
courtrooms were not readily available. 

At the time we completed our audit work, we had received survey 
responses from 10 of the 11 facilities where courtroom sharing was 
occurring. One of the facilities-—Rapid City, South Dakota-—did not 
respond to our survey. In large part, active judges at the 10 
facilities, including some chief judges, generally viewed courtroom 
sharing as problematic for various reasons. For example, at the 
Brooklyn facility, which had the greatest difference between the total 
number of district judges and courtrooms--15 judges and 10 courtrooms—-
judges reported several problems associated with courtroom sharing. 
The problems included frequent delays with sentencing convicted 
defendants and starting lengthy trials; the inability to deal 
effectively with unforeseen trial events or take full advantage of 
visiting judge resources; having to hold court proceedings in 
conference rooms, hearing rooms, and chambers; an inordinate 
proportion of staff time devoted to scheduling as opposed to case 
management; and adverse impacts on the court, litigants, private 
counsel, the U. S. Marshals Service, and the United States Attorney's 
Office due to frequent time and location scheduling changes of court 
proceedings. The chief judge at the Salt Lake City facility reported 
that the courtroom sharing situation has become more difficult to 
manage because, recently, the number of senior judges who are sharing 
a single courtroom has increased from two to three. Thus, judicial 
officials have the difficult task of either allocating time for the 
use of this courtroom among three senior judges or finding the judges 
alternative space in the facility. The chief judge also cited various 
administrative problems associated with courtroom sharing, such as 
having to move evidence and equipment from one courtroom to another in 
the middle of an extended trial, and problems in notifying litigants, 
counsel, and the public of changes in courtroom locations. Judges from 
the other facilities also described similar experiences that 
illustrated courtroom sharing problems and presented their views 
regarding the negative effects that courtroom sharing has on the 
efficient and effective administration of justice. 

In contrast, unlike active judges, some senior judges at various 
facilities generally believed that courtroom sharing did not pose 
significant problems for them. Some senior judges mentioned that 
although they would prefer having their own courtrooms they 
acknowledged that, in facilities with limited courtroom capacity, the 
sharing of courtrooms was particularly appropriate for senior judges 
with reduced caseloads. For instance, at the Nashville facility, three 
senior judges—-all of whom have reduced caseloads—-share the use of 
two courtrooms. One of the judges explained that, by working 
collegially together along with proper advanced planning, the judges 
have a courtroom sharing process that has generally worked well. Also, 
at the Benton facility, the senior judge often shares a courtroom with 
a magistrate judge and sometimes shares a courtroom with a bankruptcy 
judge. The senior judge said that, for the most part, courtroom 
sharing at the Benton facility has posed no major problems mainly 
because he has a reduced caseload, and any minor problems with the 
scheduling of courtrooms at the Benton facility have always been 
worked out amicably. This senior judge said that he knows how 
convenient it is for a judge to have his or her own courtroom and that 
one becomes very possessive about it. He went on to say that judges 
use courtrooms only part of the time and sharing can almost always be 
accomplished with proper scheduling and without any negative impact on 
the efficient and effective administration of justice. 

In addition to their comments about specific courtroom sharing 
experiences, some judges who are sharing courtrooms provided their 
views on the concept of courtroom sharing and how such sharing could 
affect courthouse operations and the administration of justice. For 
instance, at the Orlando facility, a judge stated that, in the real 
world, courtroom sharing leads to delays of justice, interference with
management of the court's caseload, and erosion of collegiality in a 
district that has frequent hearings and trials. The judge went on to 
say that in a district such as Orlando, with a heavy caseload and 
frequent trials, the number and length of trials cannot be controlled 
and the number, length, and timing of hearings cannot be predicted; 
therefore, courtroom sharing becomes an impediment to the dispensing 
of justice. More information on various judges' courtroom sharing 
experiences at 10 facilities and their views about courtroom sharing 
is included in appendix III. 

In addition to the 11 facilities, AOC initially identified Rochester, 
New York, as another facility that had fewer district courtrooms than 
district judges and where courtroom sharing may be occurring. The 
chief district judge in Rochester did not view his operation as 
courtroom sharing. He explained that, in Rochester, there were a total 
of six judges and six courtrooms—-an equal number of courtrooms for an 
equal number of judges-—which meant that the situation in Rochester 
did not meet our criteria for courtroom sharing defined as district 
judges operating in a courthouse with fewer courtrooms than judges. 
The chief judge said that, at the Rochester facility, there are six 
judges-—two active district judges, one senior district judge, one 
bankruptcy judge, and two magistrate judges. He stated that the 
bankruptcy judge uses his courtroom exclusively. However, the other 
five judges use all the courtrooms on occasion, usually depending on 
the nature and the size of the court proceeding. The chief judge 
referred to the use of courtrooms in this manner as "courtroom 
trading" rather than courtroom sharing. In commenting on these 
matters, the chief judge stated that: 

The system works fairly well, but there have been problems. We do have 
three district judges, and we all try criminal cases. So far, we have 
been able to schedule matters so that the two large courtrooms are 
utilized for criminal matters and so far we have not had a situation 
where all three district judges needed to utilize the large courtrooms 
for big criminal trials. That would create a very real problem. The 
courtroom trading is not perfect. It does involve coordination among 
five judges, some travel from one floor to another, which disrupts 
staff, and it does often present difficulties in scheduling matters on 
an emergency basis. 

Another unique courtroom sharing experience that AOC identified 
involves the Little Rock, Arkansas, facility. Judicial officials at 
the Little Rock facility reported that it had a total of 12 judges-5 
active judges, 2 senior judges, and 5 magistrate judges—and 11 
courtrooms. According to AOC, in the summer of 1998, one of the senior 
judges decided to take a reduced workload and to give up his courtroom 
so that two of the magistrate judges would not have to share a 
courtroom. This senior judge now shares courtrooms with the other 
district judges. Judicial officials at the Little Rock facility 
pointed out that courtroom sharing for a senior judge with a 30 
percent caseload has not had any negative effect on the efficient and 
effective administration of justice. However, the officials stated 
that, occasionally, it is difficult to schedule a courtroom for one 
senior district judge, even with the availability of other district 
courtrooms, because cases are scheduled months in advance, and it can 
be difficult to identify which courtroom, if any, would be available. 
In addition, the Little Rock officials mentioned that there are 
security concerns with courtroom sharing in older facilities, which 
were not designed to be used exclusively as courthouses. Specifically, 
they stated that there is no separate, secured circulation for judges 
and prisoners and both must use the same public hallways as other 
parties in the cases. 

In addition to the Rochester and Little Rock facilities, AOC 
identified two other facilities—-Austin, Texas, and Sioux Falls, South 
Dakota—-where courtroom sharing was occurring. According to the 
district court clerk, the situation at the Austin facility is unique 
because one of the two senior judges who shares a courtroom at this 
facility, which is located in the Western District of Texas, is an 
Eastern District of Texas judge who has been designated by the fifth 
circuit judicial council to reside at the Austin facility. This senior 
judge hears cases not only at the Austin facility, but also he may 
hear cases at any facility in the Western District of Texas. One of 
the senior judges at the Austin facility explained that he and the 
other senior judge share the facility's district courtroom not only 
with each other, but also with judges from the court of appeals. The 
judge further stated that courtroom sharing has had no negative effect 
on the efficient and effective administration of justice mainly 
because the judges have been resourceful and flexible in scheduling 
the use of the courtroom. However, the judge mentioned that, on 
several occasions, he has had to use a bankruptcy courtroom in the 
Austin facility to conduct district court proceedings or reschedule a 
matter to avoid conflicts. At the Sioux Falls facility, courtroom 
sharing was no longer occurring because, according to the district 
court clerk, a senior judge had become inactive at the end of 2001. 

In addition to district judges who reside at a facility, some district 
judges travel outside their districts to hear cases in another 
district. According to AOC officials, these judges-—commonly referred 
to as visiting judges—-temporarily use the courtroom of a judge at the 
location visited. AOC considers this use of courtrooms by visiting 
judges as a form of courtroom sharing that would have some impact on 
the availability of courtrooms, but the full extent of this impact is 
unknown. During fiscal year 2000, AOC data indicated that judges 
visited and conducted judicial business on 35 occasions in the 
districts where the 11 facilities were located. The chief judge for 
the Middle District of Florida reported that, during calendar years 
1999 through 2001, an average of about 15 judges visited the district 
each year, and their visits usually ranged from 2 to 6 weeks. Also, 
during January and February 2002, the district received assistance 
from 8 visiting judges whose visits typically ranged from 2 to 6 
weeks. The chief judge pointed out that during this time period, the 
district had to occasionally decline offers of assistance from some 
visiting judges because the district had no courtrooms available for 
these judges to use. AOC had no readily available data to quantify how 
often and for how long visiting judges used other judges' courtrooms 
in all districts. 

Courtroom Sharing in Future Courthouse Construction Projects: 

In addition to the courtroom sharing currently taking place, the 
judiciary also has plans for courtroom sharing in some future 
courthouse construction projects. The judiciary's updated long-range 
plan-—Five-Year Courthouse Construction Plan (Fiscal Years 2002-2006)—-
contained 45 proposed new courthouse construction projects. The 
judiciary had completed courtroom needs assessment studies for 33 of 
the 45 projects. These studies estimate the number of courtrooms that 
will be needed for 10 years after a project's anticipated design date. 
Of the 33 courtroom needs studies, 19 indicated that some courtroom 
sharing was anticipated to be occurring at the end of the planning 
time frame, and the remaining 14 studies did not. 

Our analysis showed that the 19 proposed courthouse projects are 
expected to have 113 active judges, 90 senior judges, and 158 
courtrooms at the end of the 10-year planning time frame. This equates 
to about 5 judges for every 4 courtrooms. Consistent with the Judicial 
Conference policy, courtroom sharing in these projects is expected to 
involve senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status. 
Specifically, the plans have 44 senior judges sharing courtrooms in 
these projects, and all of these judges will have more than 10 years 
in senior status. Our analysis also showed that three senior judges 
with over 10 years in senior status at these projects were not 
scheduled to share because courtrooms were available for these judges 
to use. Table 3 provides more information on the number of district 
judges and courtrooms at these 19 locations that are included in the 
judiciary's long-range plan for fiscal years 2002 through 2006. 

Table 3: District Judges and Courtrooms at 19 Project Locations with 
Planned Courtroom Sharing: 

Estimated number of district judges: 

Project location: Austin, Texas; 
Active judges: 3; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 2; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 2; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 7; 
Number of courtrooms: 5. 

Project location: Benton, Illinois; 
Active judges: 2; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 1; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 1; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 4; 
Number of courtrooms: 3. 

Project location: Buffalo, New York; 
Active judges: 4; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 1; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 2; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 7; 
Number of courtrooms: 5[A]. 

Project location: Charlotte, North Carolina; 
Active judges: 3; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 2; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 1; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 6; 
Number of courtrooms: 5. 

Project location: Fresno, California; 
Active judges: 5; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 1; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 2; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 8; 
Number of courtrooms: 5. 

Project location: Greensboro, North Carolina; 
Active judges: 4; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 2; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 2; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 8; 
Number of courtrooms: 6. 

Project location: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; 
Active judges: 3; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 1; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 1; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 5; 
Number of courtrooms: 4. 

Project location: Little Rock, Arkansas; 
Active judges: 7; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 4; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 2; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 13; 
Number of courtrooms: 11[A]. 

Project location: Los Angeles, California; 
Active judges: 26; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 8; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 11; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 45; 
Number of courtrooms: 34. 

Project location: Mobile, Alabama; 
Active judges: 4; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 2; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 3; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 9; 
Number of courtrooms: 8[A]. 

Project location: Nashville, Tennessee; 
Active judges: 5; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 1; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 3[B]; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 9; 
Number of courtrooms: 7. 

Project location: Norfolk, Virginia; 
Active judges: 5; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 2; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 2; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 9; 
Number of courtrooms: 7[A]. 

Project location: Orlando, Florida; 
Active judges: 7; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 2; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 1; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 10; 
Number of courtrooms: 9. 

Project location: Salt Lake City, Utah; 
Active judges: 7; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 2; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 4; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 13; 
Number of courtrooms: 9. 

Project location: San Diego, California; 
Active judges: 16; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 5; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 5; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 26; 
Number of courtrooms: 21[A]. 

Project location: San Jose, California; 
Active judges: 5; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 2; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 2; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 9; 
Number of courtrooms: 7. 

Project location: Savannah, Georgia; 
Active judges: 2; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 2; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 1; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 5; 
Number of courtrooms: 4. 

Project location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota; 
Active judges: 2; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 1; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 1; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 4; 
Number of courtrooms: 3. 

Project location: Toledo, Ohio; 
Active judges: 3; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 2; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 1; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 6; 
Number of courtrooms: 5. 

Project location: Total; 
Active judges: 113; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 43; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 47; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 203; 
Number of courtrooms: 158. 
	
[A] Courtrooms will be in both the old and new facilities. 

[B] At the Nashville facility, three senior judges are expected to 
have more than 10 years in senior status at the end of the planning 
cycle. However, AOC pointed out that two of these senior judges will 
not have more than 10 years in senior status until late in the 
planning cycle and thus would qualify for their own courtrooms for 
most of the planning cycle. 

Source: GAO analysis of AOC data. 

[End of table] 

The 14 projects that did not include courtroom sharing over the 10-
year planning time frame generally did not anticipate having senior 
judges with more than 10 years in senior status—a key criterion for 
determining if courtroom sharing should occur. According to AOC 
officials, senior judges at these projects may very well be sharing 
courtrooms after the 10-year planning period. For the 4 projects that 
anticipated having senior judges with more than 10 years in senior 
status, courtrooms were not shared because of specific circumstances 
at those locations. For example, in Anniston, Alabama, the senior 
judge will be the only judge at the facility and thus will be assigned 
the facility's only courtroom, but visiting judges also hear cases at 
the Anniston location. Table 4 provides more information on the 
anticipated number of district judges and courtrooms planned for these 
14 locations. 

Table 4: District Judges and Courtrooms at 14 Project Locations with 
No Planned Courtroom Sharing: 

Estimated number of district judges: 

Project location: Anniston, Alabama; 
Active judges: 0; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 0; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 1; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 1; 
Number of courtrooms: 1. 

Project location: Cape Girardeau, Missouri[A]; 
Active judges: 0; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 0; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 0; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 0; 
Number of courtrooms: 2. 

Project location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa; 
Active judges: 2; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 0; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 1; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 3; 
Number of courtrooms: 3. 

Project location: El Paso, Texas; 
Active judges: 5; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 1; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 0; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 6; 
Number of courtrooms: 6. 

Project location: Erie, Pennsylvania; 
Active judges: 1; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 0; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 0; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 1; 
Number of courtrooms: 1. 

Project location: Eugene, Oregon; 
Active judges: 2; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 0; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 0; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 2; 
Number of courtrooms: 2. 

Project location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida; 
Active judges: 5; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 2; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 2; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 9; 
Number of courtrooms: 9. 

Project location: Fort Pierce, Florida; 
Active judges: 1; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 0; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 0; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 1; 
Number of courtrooms: 1. 

Project location: Greenville, South Carolina; 
Active judges: 3; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 1; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 0; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 4; 
Number of courtrooms: 5. 

Project location: Jackson, Mississippi; 
Active judges: 4; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 2; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 0; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 6; 
Number of courtrooms: 6. 

Project location: Las Cruces, New Mexico; 
Active judges: 3; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 0; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 0; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 3; 
Number of courtrooms: 3. 

Project location: Richmond, Virginia; 
Active judges: 3; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 1; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 1; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 5; 
Number of courtrooms: 5. 

Project location: Rockford, Illinois; 
Active judges: 1; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 1; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 0; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 2; 
Number of courtrooms: 2. 

Project location: San Antonio, Texas; 
Active judges: 5; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 2; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 0; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 7; 
Number of courtrooms: 7. 

Project location: Total; 
Active judges: 37; 
Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status: 10; 
Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status: 5; 
Total number of active and senior judges: 50; 
Number of courtrooms: 53. 

[A] No active or senior judges reside at this facility. Workloads at 
this facility are handled by district judges who reside in different 
locations within the district. 

Source: GAO analysis of AOC data. 

[End of table] 

The judiciary plans to incorporate courtroom sharing in some future 
courthouse construction projects, but the amount of sharing that will 
take place within the 10-year planning time frame at these courthouse 
locations will depend on how well the planning assumptions used to 
estimate courtroom needs materialize. For example, in planning for 
courtroom sharing at a facility, the judiciary assumed that the number 
of new judge positions created by law and the appointment and 
confirmation of the judges to fill positions will be timely.[Footnote 
5] This assumption may not be fully realized. Past experience 
indicates that creating new judge positions and appointing and 
confirming judges to fill positions may not always be timely. For 
example, from 1976 through 2001, data provided by AOC officials showed 
that the Judicial Conference had requested new judge positions 14 
times. However, during this 25-year time period, Congress enacted 
legislation to increase the number of new judge positions only five 
times-—specifically, in 1978, 1984, 1990, 1999, and 2000.[Footnote 6] 
In addition, getting judges appointed and confirmed to fill judge 
positions has been no easy task. The difficulty is demonstrated by the 
length of time that some judge positions have been vacant. For 
example, on November 23, 2001, there were 102 judge vacancies, of 
which 29 had been open for more than 2 years. In fact, 1 of the 29 
vacancies had been open for more than 7 years. The timing of 
legislation creating new judge positions, and the length of time it 
takes for the appointment and confirmation of judges to fill positions 
will influence the extent to which and when courtroom sharing will 
occur. 

Another courtroom planning assumption the judiciary has used is that 
all active judges will opt for senior status within the first year of 
eligibility, which, according to AOC officials, is generally when 
judges reach at least 65 years of age and have 15 years of service. 
Under the judiciary's courtroom needs assessment studies, when an 
active judge elects to take senior status, a facility needs two 
courtrooms-—one for the new senior judge and one for the active judge 
that will replace him or her. However, if an active judge defers 
taking senior status when he or she becomes eligible, the facility 
will need a courtroom for only one judge at that time, which reduces 
the need for courtroom sharing. 

In July 2001, AOC issued a memorandum to the chief justice and members 
of the Judicial Conference that, among other things, identified trends 
in the timing of judges' decisions to take senior status. To identify 
these trends, AOC examined available data on all judges eligible to 
take senior status from 1984 through 2000 and reported that of 579 
judges, 355, or about 61 percent, took senior status within 1 year of 
eligibility. AOC further reported that from 1984 through 1995, 27, or 
about 7 percent, of 388 judges deferred taking senior status for more 
than 5 years after they became eligible. The extent to which judges 
defer taking senior status can directly affect the amount of courtroom 
sharing that will actually take place. 

In preparing courtroom needs assessment studies, the judiciary 
estimates which judges will be at the facilities over the course of 
the 10-year planning cycle. The studies identify the judges who will 
be provided their own courtrooms, and the judges who will not be 
provided courtrooms because they will be expected to share courtrooms. 
In this type of estimate, there will always be some uncertainty 
associated with trying to predict which judges will be at the 
facilities, especially senior judges with more than 10 years in senior 
status. The 44 senior judges who are indicated in the studies as 
sharing courtrooms at the end of the planning cycle will have more 
than 10 years in senior status and will be from 75 to 98 years old. As 
with any planning process, the assumptions that have to be made will 
always involve some uncertainty. In this instance, the extent to which 
these senior judges continue to serve will affect how much and when 
courtroom sharing actually occurs. 

AOC Comments and Our Evaluation: 

On March 5, 2002, AOC's associate director provided written comments 
on a draft of this report and generally agreed with the information 
contained in the report. AOC also provided additional information on 
the judiciary's courtroom sharing efforts. In its comments, AOC said 
that the information in our report on judges' courtroom sharing 
experiences confirms the judiciary's position that courtroom sharing 
is feasible only in limited circumstances. The information we obtained 
from judges at the facilities where courtroom sharing was occurring 
was limited to those facilities and was only intended to describe the 
judges' experiences with and views on courtroom sharing. Given this, 
the information cannot be generalized to facilities in all judicial 
districts. Furthermore, we did not attempt to determine the extent of 
the courtroom sharing problems cited by judges or whether those 
problems could have been mitigated by such means as courthouse design 
changes, use of different scheduling practices, or additional staff 
training. We clarified the report's scope and methodology to better 
reflect these limitations. AOC also raised some points about the 
report, which we believe need further discussion. A discussion of 
these points and a copy of AOC's written comments are included in 
appendix IV. On February 27, 2002, AOC provided oral technical 
comments on a draft of this report, which we incorporated, where 
appropriate. 

To meet the first objective, which was to examine the judiciary's 
courtroom sharing policies for senior judges, we obtained, analyzed, 
compared, and contrasted the various judicial policies regarding 
courtroom sharing. Specifically, we examined the Judicial Conference 
policy, which is in the U.S. Courts Design Guide, and the individual 
policies established by the circuit judicial councils and discussed 
them with AOC officials. 

To meet the second objective, which was to obtain information about 
the extent to which senior judges are currently sharing courtrooms and 
their experiences with courtroom sharing, we worked with AOC staff to 
identify the locations where district judges were sharing courtrooms. 
We also used a brief survey document and follow-up telephone calls to 
contact the district court clerks at these locations and collect 
information on the district judges who were sharing courtrooms. In 
addition, we solicited information about the judges' experiences with 
and views on courtroom sharing. We analyzed the information obtained 
and discussed the results of our work, as necessary, with judiciary 
officials. We did not attempt to determine the extent of the courtroom 
sharing problems cited by judges or whether the problems could have 
been mitigated by such means as courthouse design changes, use of 
different scheduling practices, or additional staff training. 
Furthermore, the results of our work can be applied only to the 
facilities discussed in the report and, therefore, cannot be 
generalized to facilities in all judicial districts. 

To meet the third objective, which was to determine the judiciary's 
efforts to explore the potential for senior judges to share courtrooms 
in future courthouse construction projects, we reviewed the 
methodology that the judiciary used to prepare its courtroom needs 
assessment studies and analyzed the studies that had been completed 
for 33 of the 45 proposed projects in the judiciary's long-range 
construction plan for fiscal years 2002 through 2006. We identified 
the projected number of judges and courtrooms planned for each of the 
33 projects and analyzed the studies to determine how much sharing was 
planned for these projects. Our analysis focused on identifying the 
active and senior district judges who were expected to be permanently 
assigned to the 33 projects and the senior judges who were expected to 
share courtrooms on a regular basis at these projects. We did not 
include visiting and rotating judges in our analysis of these studies 
because their visits are temporary in nature and usually for short 
periods of time. In addition, we reviewed the legislation increasing 
the number of district judges and data on the ages of senior judges 
expected to share courtrooms in the 33 projects. We discussed our 
results with AOC officials. 

To obtain general information related to all of our objectives, we 
reviewed previous studies on or related to courtroom sharing that were 
done by us, AOC, the Rand Institute for Civil Justice, the Federal 
Judicial Center, and private consulting groups and discussed the 
courtroom sharing issue with AOC representatives. We did our work from 
June through December 2001 in accordance with generally accepted 
government auditing standards. On March 5, 2002, AOC provided written 
comments on a draft of this report. On February 27, 2002, AOC provided 
oral technical comments on a draft of this report, which we 
incorporated, where appropriate. 

As agreed with your offices, unless you publicly announce the contents 
of this report earlier, we plan no further distribution of the report 
until 15 days from the report date. At that time, we will send copies 
of this report to appropriate congressional committees; the director, 
AOC; the director, OMB; and the administrator, GSA. Copies also will 
be made available to others upon request. 

Major contributors to this report were William Dowdal, Anne Hilleary, 
Gerald Stankosky, and John Vocino. If you or your staff have any 
questions, please contact me on (202) 512-8387 or at ungarb@gao.gov. 

Signed by: 

Bernard L. Ungar: 
Director, Physical Infrastructure: 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: Judicial Conference Policy Statement: 

In March 1997, the Judicial Conference of the United States adopted a 
policy statement that provided guidance for determining the number of 
courtrooms needed in facilities. The policy was included in the 
December 1997 version of the U.S. Courts Design Guide. As stated in 
the Guide, the policy encourages courts to take several factors into 
account when considering the construction of additional courtrooms. 
Also, the policy encourages circuit judicial councils to develop 
policies on courtroom sharing by senior judges when such judges do not 
draw caseloads requiring substantial use of courtrooms. The complete 
text of the policy statement follows. 

"Recognizing how essential the availability of a courtroom is to the 
fulfillment of the judge's responsibility to serve the public by 
disposing of criminal trials, sentencing, and civil cases in a fair 
and expeditious manner, and presiding over the wide range of 
activities that take place in courtrooms requiring the presence of a 
judicial officer, the Judicial Conference adopts the following policy 
for determining the number of courtrooms needed at a facility: 

"With regard to district judges, one courtroom must be provided for 
each active judge. In addition, with regard to senior judges who do 
not draw a caseload requiring substantial use of a courtroom, and 
visiting judges, judicial councils should utilize the following 
factors, as well as other appropriate factors, in evaluating the 
number of courtrooms at a facility necessary to permit them to 
discharge their responsibilities. 

* An assessment of workload in terms of the number and types of cases 
anticipated to be handled by each such judge; 

* The number of years each such judge is likely to be located at the 
facility; 

* An evaluation of the current complement of courtrooms and their 
projected use in the facility and throughout the district in order to 
reaffirm whether construction of an additional courtroom is necessary; 

* An evaluation of the use of the special proceedings courtroom and 
any other special purpose courtrooms to provide for more flexible and 
varied use, such as use for jury trial; and; 

* An evaluation of the need for a courtroom dedicated to specific use 
by visiting judges, particularly when courtrooms for projected 
authorized judgeships are planned in the new or existing facility. 

"In addition, each circuit judicial council has been encouraged by the 
Judicial Conference to develop a policy on sharing courtrooms by 
senior judges when a senior judge does not draw a caseload requiring 
substantial use of a courtroom. 

"The following assumptions, endorsed by the Judicial Conference in 
March 1997, should be considered to determine courtroom capacity in 
new buildings, new space, or space undergoing renovation. This model 
allows assumptions to be made about caseload projections, and the time 
frames in which replacement, senior, and new judgeships will occupy 
the facility. The model affords flexibility to courts and circuit 
judicial councils when making decisions about the number of courtrooms 
to construct in a new facility, since adjustments to the assumptions 
can be made to reflect a specific housing situation 'on-line.' 

* The number of new judgeships approved by the Judicial Conference and 
recommended for approval by Congress, and the year approval is expected;
* The number of years senior judges will need a courtroom after taking 
senior status (a ten-year time frame is recommended); 

* The average age of newly-appointed judges at the court location;
* Caseload projections based upon the district's long range facility 
plan (other caseload measures such as raw or weighted filings might 
also be considered); 

* The percentage of the total district caseload handled at the location;
* The ratio of courtrooms per active and senior judge (at present the 
model assumes a ratio of one courtroom per judge); 

* The number of years it will take for a new judgeship to be approved 
by the Judicial Conference and Congress once weighted filings reach 
the level that qualifies a court for an additional new judgeship (a 
three-year time frame is recommended); 

* The number of years before replacement judges will be on board after 
a judge takes senior status (a two-year time frame is recommended); 
and; 

* The year the judges are expected to take senior status once they 
become eligible (a court or council should assume a judge will take 
senior status when eligible). 

"The planning assumptions described above are subject to modification 
by courts in consultation with the respective judicial council." 

[End of section] 

Appendix II: Information From the Twelve Circuit Judicial Councils' 
Policy Statements Related to Courtroom Sharing: 

First Circuit: 

Date of circuit council policy statement: April 7, 1998. 

Information from the circuit council policy statement: 

* The first circuit council strongly preferred that, wherever 
feasible, each senior judge be given a courtroom dedicated to his or 
her own use. However, the council intended to comply with Judicial 
Conference policy regarding senior judges sharing courtrooms in those 
cases where appropriate. 

* The first circuit council suggested that, when courtrooms are 
designed, consideration should be given to making district, 
magistrate, and bankruptcy courtrooms interchangeable where permitted 
by program requirements. 

* The decision as to whether to include one or more visiting judge's 
chambers in a new construction or substantial renovation project would 
depend upon an evaluation of the caseload to be handled in that 
location. 

Second Circuit: 

Date of circuit council policy statement: February 11, 1998. 

Information from the circuit council policy statement: 

In determining whether to provide dedicated courtrooms for senior and 
visiting judges in new construction and alteration projects, the 
second circuit council will consider all relevant factors, as 
applicable, including the Judicial Conference policy's courtroom 
sharing factors. 

Third Circuit: 

Date of circuit council policy statement: October 20, 1997. 

Information from the circuit council policy statement: 

* For the construction of new facilities and major renovations of 
existing judicial facilities, the third circuit council stated that, 
in evaluating the number of courtrooms needed at such facilities to 
permit senior and visiting judges to discharge their responsibilities, 
the council will consider the Judicial Conference's courtroom sharing 
factors in concert with other factors it deems appropriate. 

* The third circuit council also described the overall process to be 
used in preparing, reviewing, and approving district courts' proposed 
plans for determining the number of courtrooms in the construction or 
major renovation of judicial facilities. This process included the use 
of a computer model planning document developed by the Administrative 
Office of the U.S. Courts (AOC), which the third circuit council plans 
to use as a tool to help district courts explain and justify their 
proposals for the construction of courtrooms in new facilities. 

Fourth Circuit: 

Date of circuit council policy statement: April 6, 1998. 

Information from the circuit council policy statement: 

* For the construction of new facilities and major renovations of 
existing judicial facilities, the fourth circuit council stated that, 
in evaluating the number of courtrooms needed at such facilities to 
permit senior and visiting judges to discharge their responsibilities, 
the council will consider the Judicial Conference's courtroom sharing 
factors in concert with other factors it deems appropriate. 

* The fourth circuit council also described the overall process to be 
used in preparing, reviewing, and approving district courts' proposed 
plans for determining the number of courtrooms in facilities. This 
process included the use of a computer model planning document 
developed by AOC to help district courts explain and justify their 
proposals for the construction of courtrooms in new and existing 
judicial facilities. 

Fifth Circuit: 

Date of circuit council policy statement: October 10, 1997. 

Information from the circuit council policy statement: 

* The fifth circuit council provided its December 1990 and May 1995 
resolutions on courtroom sharing as its policy statement. In the 
resolutions, the fifth circuit council stated that the council may 
direct, when appropriate, the joint use of courtroom and adjunct 
facilities as dockets and other circumstances warrant. 

* The fifth circuit council also addressed other matters related to 
providing chambers and staff and, if required, courtrooms to judges 
who plan to take senior status. Among the matters addressed are the 
following: 

- When the fifth circuit council has been advised that an active judge 
intends to take senior status and continue working at a level that 
qualifies under the council's guidelines for the assignment of 
chambers and staff, the council will take the immediate and necessary 
steps to provide appropriate senior judge chambers, and, if required, 
courtroom facilities. 

- Unless special circumstances cause the fifth circuit council to 
direct otherwise, a judge taking senior status, whose replacement will 
have the same official duty station, is to make available to the newly 
appointed active judge the chambers and facility used during the 
period of active service. 

- If two or more senior judges are occupying active judge chambers, 
the determination of which of those active judge chambers is to be 
occupied by the newly appointed active judge shall be made by the 
court in question. 

Sixth Circuit: 

Date of circuit council policy statement: December 9, 1997. 

Information from the circuit council policy statement: 

The sixth circuit council stated that a separate courtroom will not be 
provided for each senior district judge or for visiting judges unless 
the council determines, after consideration of the Judicial 
Conference's courtroom sharing factors, among others, that a separate 
courtroom is necessary for the senior or visiting judge to discharge 
his or her responsibilities. 

Seventh Circuit: 

Date of circuit council policy statement: September 30, 1997. 

Information from the circuit council policy statement: 

* The seventh circuit council stated that each senior judge who is 
designated and assigned to perform judicial duties shall be entitled 
to suitable chambers, including furnishings and supplies, and, if 
applicable, suitable courtroom facilities. 

* A senior judge who continues to perform a full judicial assignment 
should not be required to give up the chambers or courtroom the judge 
occupied in active status, except to the extent that lack of 
facilities for new judges requires sharing of facilities. In that 
case, senior judges with a full judicial assignment should be treated 
the same as active judges in the determination of a sharing 
arrangement. 

* Decisions as to the assignment of facilities for senior judges who 
perform less than a full judicial assignment shall be made by that 
judge's court. The council defined the term "full judicial assignment" 
to mean that the senior judge continues to be assigned and perform the 
same work, both casework and other assignments, as if he or she were 
an active judge of the same court. 

Eighth Circuit: 

Date of circuit council policy statement: April 15, 1998. 

Information from the circuit council policy statement: 

* When the eighth circuit council has been advised that an active 
judge intends to take senior status and continue working at a level 
that qualifies under the council's guidelines for the assignment of 
chambers and staff, the council will take immediate and necessary 
steps to provide appropriate senior judge chambers and, if required, 
courtroom facilities. 

* The eighth circuit council may direct, when appropriate, the joint 
use of a courtroom and adjunct facilities as dockets and other 
circumstances warrant. 

Ninth Circuit: 

Date of circuit council policy statement: March 19, 1998. 

Information from the circuit council policy statement: 

* The ninth circuit council stated that the courtroom sharing factors 
and planning assumptions are to be used as guidelines and may be 
modified on the basis of unique circumstances of each district and 
that they shall be used when the districts update long-range plans and 
prepare requests for adding/releasing space. 

* The ninth circuit council further stated the following: 

- Each district is encouraged to develop a local policy to address 
senior and visiting judges sharing courtrooms. 

- The policy is to be provided to the circuit council's Space and 
Security Committee. 

- The policy shall be submitted when the district requests additional 
courtroom space or releases courtroom space. 

* The ninth circuit council policy also stated that when considering 
the need for new courtrooms, districts: 

- shall consider the factors discussed in the report prepared by the 
council's Space and Security Committee task force that affect the 
projection of courtroom needs, and; 

- should take into consideration using space for multiple purposes to 
the extent feasible and with consideration of both initial and long-
term fiscal impacts. 

Tenth Circuit: 

Date of circuit council policy statement: October 22, 1997. 

Information from the circuit council policy statement: 

* The tenth circuit council stated that one courtroom should be 
provided for each senior judge who draws a caseload requiring 
substantial use of a courtroom. 

* The tenth circuit council also stated that in determining the number 
of courtrooms in existing facilities for senior district judges who do 
not draw caseloads requiring substantial use of courtrooms, it will 
consider not only the Judicial Conference policy factors but also the 
availability of courtrooms and the feasibility or nonfeasibility of 
releasing courtroom space to the General Services Administration. 

Eleventh Circuit: 

Date of circuit council policy statement: September 25, 1997. 

Information from the circuit council policy statement: 

In adopting the Judicial Conference's factors and assumptions, the 
eleventh circuit council discussed in its policy statement two major 
topics related to the courtroom sharing issue: (1) the process to be 
used in planning for the number of courtrooms in new facilities and 
(2) courtroom availability and sharing. 

* Planned number of courtrooms in new facilities. In addressing this 
topic, the eleventh circuit council described the overall process to 
be used in preparing, reviewing, and approving district courts' 
proposed plans for determining the number of courtrooms in new 
judicial facilities. This process included the use of a computer model 
planning document developed by AOC, which the eleventh circuit council 
plans to use as a tool to help district courts explain and justify 
their proposals for the construction of courtrooms in new judicial 
facilities. 

* Courtroom availability and sharing. In discussing this topic, the 
eleventh circuit council recognized that methods varied greatly 
throughout the judiciary and within the eleventh circuit for the 
sharing of courtrooms by senior judges who do not draw caseloads 
requiring substantial use of courtrooms. The council further 
recognized that district courts were in the best position to determine 
the need for courtrooms in facilities and the number of courtrooms 
that are necessary to ensure the fair, efficient, and expeditious 
handling of civil and criminal cases. Thus, the eleventh circuit 
council determined that, at the present time, it would not adopt a 
written courtroom sharing policy, but the council directed each 
district court to submit no later than January 1, 1998, a written 
report that described the district court's local situation and the 
courtroom sharing policy that the district court adopted to meet its 
own local needs. 

As of September 2001, AOC identified one of nine district courts 
within the eleventh circuit—the Southern District of Florida—that had 
developed its own local courtroom sharing policy. This policy stated 
that each senior judge will be allowed a courtroom unless courtroom 
use hours and cases assigned to that judge fall below the caseload 
requirements within a 5-year period for substantial use of a 
courtroom. If the senior judge does not maintain a caseload requiring 
substantial use of a courtroom in the 5-year period, the courtroom 
will be made available for others to use. The policy also stated that, 
on the basis of historical data, senior judges are expected to occupy 
a courtroom for 15 years after taking senior status, and that this 
time frame should be used for planning for courtroom needs. 

The eleventh circuit council also discussed other matters related to 
courtroom availability and sharing. Specifically, the council stated 
that the availability of a judge to hear a case and a courtroom within 
which to conduct a trial or hearing are the two principal elements 
that drive settlements or pleas and that, statistically, settlements 
or pleas are the means by which most controversies are concluded. The 
council recognized that current statistics on courtroom use do not 
adequately capture these activities and that better data must be 
collected in this area. In discussing this topic, the eleventh circuit 
council cited the May 1997 GAO report in which some data were captured 
that attempted to indicate the overall use of courtrooms, such as the 
actual number of hours that a courtroom was in use (i.e., whether the 
courtroom's lights were "on" or "off"). 

In an attempt to obtain more information on courtroom use, the 
eleventh circuit council required that district courts provide data 
that will more accurately reflect courtroom activities, including such 
data as when a courtroom has been "booked" for a trial (i.e., case set 
for trial); the number of days a trial is anticipated to take; and how 
a case was terminated (e.g., trial, plea, or settlement). The council 
stated its belief that this type of information would provide the hard 
data that will enable various stakeholders, including Congress, GAO, 
and the public, to understand the appropriate functions that a 
courtroom-—even a seemingly "dark courtroom"-—plays in the 
administration of the judicial system. 

D.C. Circuit: 

Date of circuit council policy statement: October 22, 1997. 

Information from the circuit council policy statement: 

The judges of the U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia 
unanimously determined that: 

* a courtroom should be provided for each active judge and each senior 
judge who requires substantial use of his or her courtroom; and; 

* courtroom sharing will be achieved on a collegial basis, as is the 
tradition of the judges of the court. 

The judicial council for the District of Columbia circuit supported 
the district court's determination. 

[End of section] 

Appendix III: Information from Active and Senior District Judges in 
Ten Facilities Where Courtroom Sharing Was Occurring: 

San Juan, Puerto Rico (First Circuit): 

Types of district judges sharing courtrooms on a regular basis: 

* Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status. 

Approximate length of time courtroom sharing has been ongoing at the 
facility: 1.5 years. 

Reported experiences of active and/or senior judges at facilities 
where courtroom sharing was occurring: 

* Positive experiences: None reported. 

* Negative experiences: When two or more senior judges need a 
courtroom at the same time, the conflict is resolved by giving 
precedence to the judge who first scheduled the courtroom. When two 
proceedings must occur at the same time, the courtroom deputy must 
negotiate with all the judges to accommodate their needs. The typical 
solution is for one of the judges to use the court of appeals 
courtroom, which creates two difficulties. First, using this courtroom 
involves an extra level of coordination because the appellate court 
controls the courtroom, and the courtroom may not be available every 
time that it is needed. Second, the court of appeals courtroom does 
not have the computers installed or network connections needed for 
district trials. Thus, the courtroom deputy cannot accomplish needed 
tasks that must be accomplished during proceedings. In addition, the 
court of appeals courtroom does not have a digital recording system so 
court reporter services, which are very hard to find in the Puerto 
Rico area, must be contracted. 

General comments: The chief judge said that sharing courtrooms is not 
the best way to run trials efficiently because of the unpredictable 
nature of trial proceedings. Therefore, judges should have separate 
courtrooms for motions and hearings. If conflicts occur with the 
senior judges' courtroom sharing situation, these conflicts would be 
exacerbated if active judges with full schedules also needed to share 
the facility's courtrooms. The chief judge also believes that one 
courtroom for three judges does not promote efficiency in judicial 
proceedings. 

Brooklyn, New York (Second Circuit): 

Types of district judges sharing courtrooms on a regular basis: 

* Active judges. 

* Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status. 

Approximate length of time courtroom sharing has been ongoing at the 
facility: 4.5 years. 

Reported experiences of active and/or senior judges at facilities 
where courtroom sharing was occurring: 

* Positive experiences: None reported. 

* Negative experiences: Sentencing of convicted defendants, both 
incarcerated and on bail, is frequently delayed. 

Lengthy trials are often delayed, even though ready for trial, due to 
the inability to obtain a courtroom for the anticipated time required.
Severe security concerns because U.S. Marshals Service personnel are 
forced to transport prisoners through public corridors. 

Proceedings involving defendants in custody are frequently conducted 
in conference rooms, hearing rooms, and chambers. 

Inability to take full advantage of visiting judge resources. 

Inordinate proportion of staff time devoted to scheduling as opposed 
to case management. 

Inability to effectively deal with unforeseen trial events. Any delay 
whatsoever in a scheduled trial proceeding affects the schedules of at 
least two other judges, which results in cascading delays. 

Frequent time and location scheduling changes in court proceedings 
adversely affect the court, litigants, private counsel, the U.S. 
Marshals Service, and the United States Attorney's Office. 

Proceedings delayed or interrupted, security breached; technology 
duplicated or compromised; housekeeping deteriorated. 

One judge commented that he has had to switch courtrooms in midtrial, 
causing lawyers tremendous inconveniences such as having to move file 
cabinets and large exhibits. The judge also stated that he has had to 
postpone a late-day detention hearing because another judge needed the 
courtroom, causing the defendant to spend an additional night in jail. 
The judge commented further that with no "home" courtroom, he cannot 
keep all the books and materials he would otherwise have in court; 
thus, he often does not have a resource that he would use in helping 
him make decisions. 

General comments: A district judge stated that when a judge is engaged 
in a trial of long duration, as is frequently the case in the Brooklyn 
district court, courtroom sharing is patently impossible. The judge 
commented that when he or she is not engaged in a trial, the day-to-
day work of a district judge in a busy metropolitan court consists of 
a dizzying array of various matters, such as motions argued in civil 
and criminal cases; arraignments; pleas; sentencings; modification of 
bail hearings; and orders to show cause that may require immediate 
attention, such as those seeking temporary restraining orders or 
preliminary injunctions, Title 3 wire tap applications, and violation 
of bail or supervised release hearings. Such proceedings are held at 
intervals over an entire day and make courtroom sharing difficult, if 
not impossible. 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Third Circuit): 

Types of district judges sharing courtrooms on a regular basis: 

* Active judges. 

* Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status. 

* Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status. 

Approximate length of time courtroom sharing has been ongoing at the 
facility: 12 years. 

Reported experiences of active and/or senior judges at facilities 
where courtroom sharing was occurring: 

* Positive experiences: None reported. 

* Negative experiences: The chief judge stated that active and senior 
judges have voiced their concerns that, on too many occasions, they 
cannot schedule proceedings on a regular, open-ended basis in the same 
courtroom. This situation has caused some confusion and consternation 
for the attorneys, jurors, and litigants who use the courtrooms on a 
shared basis and has also resulted in the wasteful and inefficient use 
of court support staff who must deal with the uncertainty of 
scheduling proceedings in courtrooms yet "to be announced." 

General comments: The chief judge stated that, since 1989, active and 
senior judges have shared available courtrooms while a number of major 
construction projects were being completed. Since completion of the 
projects, sharing regularly occurs only in one courtroom. However, the 
chief judge expects that over the next few years, the district court 
will expand, and a major space crisis will occur because the present 
courthouse has reached its limit for accommodating judges. It is 
anticipated that more courtroom shortages will occur, causing more 
active and senior judges to have to share courtrooms. 

The chief judge said that although the judges have been very 
understanding of the situation and very cooperative in arranging their 
calendars to cope with courtroom shortages, judges generally felt that 
permanently assigned courtrooms greatly improve courtroom management, 
increase the efficiency of judges and support staff, and expedite the 
timely administration of justice. Without the stability of permanently 
assigned courtrooms, some judges are concerned that the public's 
perception of the judiciary as an independent branch of government 
suffers when judges are compelled to share courtrooms. 

In addition, the chief judge stated that the judges view a dedicated 
courtroom as a catalyst for the resolution of litigation. A judge's 
ability to schedule promptly a proceeding in a dedicated courtroom 
often results in the resolution of litigation disputes. The chief 
judge likened the availability of a dedicated courtroom to the 
availability of an ambulance or a fire engine. Although neither of 
these items is in constant use, both are essential for the expeditious 
delivery of safety and health services to citizens on an as-needed 
basis. 

Nashville, Tennessee (Sixth Circuit): 

Types of district judges sharing courtrooms on a regular basis: 

* Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status. 

Approximate length of time courtroom sharing has been ongoing at the 
facility: 3 years. 

Reported experiences of active and/or senior judges at facilities 
where courtroom sharing was occurring: 

* Positive experiences: The chief judge for the Nashville district 
court and a senior judge stated that the senior judges in Nashville 
are very collegial and operate with reduced caseloads, so courtroom 
sharing has worked. The chief judge said courtroom sharing has not 
posed problems for these judges. Through proper planning and mutual 
sacrifice, the three senior judges have worked together nicely to 
utilize two courtrooms. 

One senior district judge went on to say that each of the three senior 
judges has a schedule of 6 weeks in courtroom and 3 weeks in chambers. 
If one of the senior judges has a multidefendant case that requires a 
larger courtroom, he or she can swap with an active district judge. 
Scheduling cases 6 to 9 months in advance is a reason that courtroom 
sharing has worked well. Also, one of the senior judges said that, if 
a senior judge occasionally has a case that exceeds the allotted time 
in the courtroom, the senior judges work it out. 

* Negative experiences: The chief judge said that on occasion, the 
courtroom sharing arrangement for the senior judges does not work 
because litigation involves unpredictable variables, such as ancillary 
hearings; trial length; and availability of attorneys, witnesses, and 
jurors. When such events occur and a judge not scheduled for the 
courtroom needs one, the affected judge is forced to try to find an 
available active judge's courtroom or postpone the trial or 
proceeding. In some cases, this has necessitated one judge moving his 
hearings to another facility in Columbia, Tennessee. 

General comments: The chief judge and a senior judge stated that 
courtroom sharing among active district judges would not be a good 
idea. The chief judge said such sharing would be inefficient, costly, 
and time-consuming and would defeat the purpose of personalized case 
management. Active judges handle all sorts of trials, motion hearings, 
emergency requests for injunctions or temporary restraining orders, 
guilty pleas, sentencings, suppression hearings and a variety of other 
hearings, as well as conferences. The time frames of such proceedings 
are often unpredictable, and many arise with short or no warning. 
Courtroom sharing would severely affect the judge's ability to move 
his cases through the judicial process in an efficient and effective 
manner. The attorneys and public also would suffer greatly. 

The chief judge also stated that, as an active judge, he is in his 
courtroom conducting legal business almost every day. The courtroom 
deputy schedules cases in advance for most weeks throughout the year. 
The chief judge went on to say that he could not imagine sharing his 
courtroom with another judge on a regular basis without drastically 
sacrificing his productivity and efficiency. 

A senior judge stated that active judges often need their courtrooms 
on short notice and have longer cases, which makes courtroom sharing 
more difficult to manage. 

Benton, Illinois (Seventh Circuit): 

Types of district judges sharing courtrooms on a regular basis: 

* Active judges. 

* Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status. 

Approximate length of time courtroom sharing has been ongoing at the 
facility: 9 years. 

Reported experiences of active and/or senior judges at facilities 
where courtroom sharing was occurring: 

* Positive experiences: The senior judge at the Benton facility said 
that there have been no major problems with courtroom sharing. The 
only problems have involved scheduling the use of courtrooms; but so 
far, such scheduling has always been worked out amicably. An important 
reason for the lack of problems is that the senior judge has a reduced 
caseload. 

* Negative experiences: None reported. 

General comments: The senior judge at the Benton facility stated that 
he has been on the federal bench for 29 years and knows how convenient 
it is for a judge to have his or her own courtroom—one becomes very 
possessive about it. However, he said the fact of the matter is that 
when all is said and done, judges only use courtrooms part of the time 
and sharing can almost always be accomplished with proper scheduling 
and without any negative impact on the efficient and effective 
administration of justice. 

Also, according to the senior judge, the Benton facility has one 
district courtroom, one magistrate courtroom, and one bankruptcy 
courtroom. The district judges also use the latter two courtrooms, 
although the bankruptcy courtroom is suitable only for motion hearings 
or nonjury cases because it does not have a jury box. In addition, the 
active judge at the Benton facility said that using the courtrooms has 
worked very well and that all judges have been able to coordinate the 
use of these courtrooms. 

Fayetteville, Arkansas (Eighth Circuit): 

Types of district judges sharing courtrooms on a regular basis: 

* Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status. 

Approximate length of time courtroom sharing has been ongoing at the 
facility: 3 years, 1 month. 

Reported experiences of active and/or senior judges at facilities 
where courtroom sharing was occurring: 

* Positive experiences: The senior judge thinks that given his 
situation, courtroom sharing is a good idea. 

* Negative experiences: None reported. 

General comments: The chief judge said that the Fayetteville facility 
has a district courtroom and a bankruptcy courtroom. The chief judge 
uses the district courtroom, and the senior judge and the bankruptcy 
judge use the bankruptcy courtroom. The senior judge decided that 
given his caseload and a desire to minimize scheduling conflicts with 
the district courtroom, it would be best for him to share the 
bankruptcy courtroom. The bankruptcy judge was receptive to this 
arrangement. 

Although the chief judge reported no problems with this arrangement, 
he said that he had strong concerns about the notion of sharing 
courtrooms among active and senior judges in the Western District of 
Arkansas. He said that his district's experience at its Hot Springs 
facility cast doubts on the practicality of sharing. This facility has 
one courtroom and no assigned judge. Four judges—two district, one 
magistrate, and one bankruptcy—have had proceedings there at the same 
time. This experience has been unsatisfactory to all involved. The 
chief judge explained that, if attempts to schedule cases and 
coordinate the use of one courtroom by multiple, nonresident judges 
are difficult, the problems would be exacerbated if district judges 
had to share a courtroom where they were in residence. 

The chief judge believes that convenience and efficiency in handling 
the court's dockets are decidedly reduced in the Hot Springs facility, 
and other facilities, where courtrooms are shared among multiple, 
nonresident judges. He believes that courtroom sharing among active or 
senior judges is not a good idea in his district and should be 
discouraged. 

Sioux City, Iowa (Eighth Circuit): 

Types of district judges sharing courtrooms on a regular basis: 

* Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status. 

Approximate length of time courtroom sharing has been ongoing at the 
facility: 5 years. 

Reported experiences of active and/or senior judges at facilities 
where courtroom sharing was occurring: 

* Positive experiences: According to the senior district judge, in 
this facility, there are four judges—a chief judge, a senior judge 
with 10 years or less in senior status, a bankruptcy judge, and a 
magistrate judge—and three courtrooms, including a district courtroom, 
a bankruptcy courtroom, and a magistrate courtroom. The senior judge 
explained that determining the present and future availability of a 
courtroom is easily done via computer and that he uses any of the 
three courtrooms when they are not being used by the other three 
judges. The senior judge went on to say that, on those few occasions 
when all three courtrooms were being used at the same time, he has 
used a video conference room in the basement of the facility as a 
courtroom with no problems. 

* Negative experiences: The chief judge stated that, first and 
foremost, the negative impact of courtroom sharing in this facility is 
minimal. This is due to the cooperation and open communication among 
all four judges. Any negative impact would tend to be on the 
"efficient" rather than the "effective" administration of justice. 
There have been a few times when the chief judge and the senior judge 
have had trials set for the same week. Most often, one judge was able 
to hold court in either the bankruptcy or magistrate courtroom. 
However, there have been occasions where a trial had to be continued 
because a courtroom was unavailable. Also, in one of the chief judge's 
recent trials, the trial was held in a different courtroom each of the 
3 days that the trial lasted. This was a major inconvenience for all 
involved and proved to be somewhat confusing and distressing to the 
jury. 

The chief judge also mentioned that the space in the bankruptcy 
courtroom is extremely confined and has only a makeshift jury box. He 
said that such an atmosphere tends to take away from the dignity of 
the proceedings. Also, the lack of courtroom space limits the court's 
ability to do mass criminal trial settings. In addition, attempts to 
bring judges in from around the state to assist with the increasing 
criminal docket have been impeded because there is no courtroom in 
which to hold the trials. 

General comments: The chief judge did not look on the courtroom-
sharing situation in the Sioux City facility as a major problem. 
However, he said that, at times, the court has not been able to 
operate as efficiently as it could because of the lack of space. With 
the ever-increasing caseload, it may become more of a problem in the 
future. 

The senior judge stated that sharing is not the right word for the use 
of courtrooms at the Sioux City facility. He said that the procedure 
for using courtrooms has worked well, and that the other judges have 
been very gracious and helpful. The senior judge also said that, from 
his point of view, this arrangement has had no negative impact on the 
efficient and effective administration of justice. 

Salt Lake City, Utah (Tenth Circuit): 

Types of district judges sharing courtrooms on a regular basis: 

* Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status. 

Approximate length of time courtroom sharing has been ongoing at the 
facility: 2 years. 

Reported experiences of active and/or senior judges at facilities 
where courtroom sharing was occurring: 

* Positive experiences: None reported. 

* Negative experiences: At this facility, all four of the senior 
judges have reduced caseloads, but two of the four judges spend a 
significant amount of time in court, averaging more courtroom time per 
case than the active judges. Until recently, two of the four senior 
judges had their own courtrooms, and the remaining two senior judges 
were sharing the one courtroom that is located on the fourth floor of 
the building. The sharing arrangement involved the two judges sharing 
this courtroom on a rotating weekly basis, subject to changes that the 
judges worked out between themselves. In some instances, the two 
judges needed the courtroom at the same time, which required one of 
the two judges to find a courtroom that was vacant elsewhere in the 
building. 

This situation has become more difficult to manage because, recently, 
one of the senior judges who had his own courtroom had to make it 
available for an active judge who is expected to come on board within 
the next 3 to 6 months. This senior judge has been relocated and now 
shares the fourth floor courtroom with the two other senior judges. 
Thus, at the present time, three of the facility's four senior judges 
are sharing courtrooms. The court is now faced with the difficulty of 
allocating time for the use of the fourth floor courtroom among three 
senior judges or coming up with another alternative. 

One alternative involves one of the three senior judges using the 
first floor courtroom that is still assigned to the fourth senior 
judge, who has retained his own courtroom. To get to this courtroom, 
the senior judge who needs a courtroom must walk the length of the 
building—-about one-half of a city block—-and take the secured 
elevator, which is also used for prisoner transport, to the first 
floor. Then, the senior judge who needs a courtroom has to either walk 
through the chambers of the fourth senior judge or use a public 
corridor and enter the first floor courtroom through the attorney's 
entrance, an option that creates security issues. Clearly, for the 
judge to have to go such a long distance from his chambers on the 
fourth floor to get to a first floor courtroom presents a very awkward 
and inefficient situation. For example, the judge may want to call 
counsel into chambers in the middle of a jury trial for a brief 
conference, which is not an uncommon occurrence. If he is using the 
first floor courtroom, the judge would either have to take counsel all 
the way back up to his chambers on the fourth floor, leaving the jury 
waiting, or use the fourth senior judge's chambers, thus imposing on 
one of his colleagues. 

Another reported difficulty that this facility experienced involved 
the fourth floor courtroom, which was the facility's only electronic 
courtroom. In addition to the senior judges who share this courtroom, 
active judges also occasionally needed to use the fourth floor 
courtroom. At the present time, a project is under way to provide 
electronic evidence presentation capabilities in the facility's 
remaining courtrooms. This project is expected to be completed in May 
2002 and will eliminate the pressure on the use of the fourth floor 
courtroom. 

Occasionally, one of the senior judges sharing the fourth floor 
courtroom may be involved in an extended and complex trial that takes 
several weeks to complete. Because one of the other two senior judges 
sharing the courtroom may need it during his week, the senior judge 
with the extended trial will have to prevail upon the attorneys to 
move their exhibits, equipment, and trial materials from one courtroom 
to another on a different floor. When a complex civil trial involves 
numerous boxes of documents, devices, equipment, or other nonpaper 
evidence, the need to move these items can impose a significant burden 
on the litigants. Additional administrative burdens, such as 
scheduling and notifying litigants, counsel, and the public of 
courtroom changes, also occur when proceedings are moved from one 
courtroom to another. 

General comments: The chief judge is concerned that courtroom sharing 
inevitably affects courtroom availability and that judges will be 
placed in a difficult position when the availability of a courtroom 
has the potential to affect the administration of justice. He cited 
two examples of such difficulty—-one related to motion hearings and 
the other to the scheduling of trials. 

* Motion hearings. Judges have the discretion to grant or deny motions 
to hear oral argument on critical matters relating to a case before 
them. If they opt to grant the motion for oral argument, they also 
have the discretion to determine the length of oral argument. To the 
extent that courtroom sharing imposes constraints on the courtroom 
time a judge has available to him or her, the administration of 
justice may be compromised if such constraints are weighed among the 
factors for denying oral argument or restricting the amount of time 
the litigants seek to argue their case. 

* Scheduling trials. The Constitution guarantees a right to trial, but 
a judge can exercise some influence over the parties' decision to opt 
for a trial. He or she may urge them to engage in settlement 
discussions as an alternative to trial. Alternatively, he or she may 
indicate a strong willingness to accept a plea bargain with the caveat 
that opting for trial may entail the full weight of the sentencing 
guidelines if the defendant is convicted on all counts. One factor 
that has the clear potential to affect how a judge approaches the 
issue of whether to proceed to trial is courtroom availability. A 
judge who has unlimited access to a courtroom is likely to be less 
inclined, other factors being equal, to avoid scheduling a trial than 
another judge whose courtroom access is limited and whose courtroom 
calendar already may be crowded with previously scheduled proceedings. 

In both instances, the chief judge expressed a strong view that 
courtroom availability should not be a factor in the decision whether 
to schedule oral argument or whether to proceed with a trial if the 
judge believes that the substantive elements of the issue or the case 
at hand otherwise demand it. To the extent that courtroom availability 
does play into such decisions, serious questions are raised about the 
effective administration of justice. 

Jacksonville, Florida (Eleventh Circuit): 

Types of district judges sharing courtrooms on a regular basis: 

* Active judges. 

* Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status. 

* Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status. 

Approximate length of time courtroom sharing has been ongoing at the 
facility: Over 10 years. 

Reported experiences of active and/or senior judges at facilities 
where courtroom sharing was occurring: 

* Positive experiences: None reported. 

* Negative experiences: Judges prefer having their own courtrooms 
because resources, such as books and files, can be kept in the 
courtroom and are always there when needed. A shared courtroom may not 
be adjacent to chambers and, thus, may restrict easy access to law 
clerks and equipment for printing transcripts. 

Courtroom sharing can also affect the ease with which a courtroom's 
equipment, such as that used for real-time reporting, can be set up. 
In addition, with courtroom sharing, it may not be possible to 
identify and provide advance notice of the specific courtroom where 
the proceeding is to take place. Without this information, lawyers and 
the public will be confused about where to go to attend the 
appropriate proceeding. 

General comments: All the judges share out of necessity and believe it 
affects their efficiency and the efficiency of their staffs. They 
would prefer having their own courtrooms. Also, although the court has 
not encountered any negative impact on the efficient and effective 
administration of justice, judges cited speedy trial issues as an area 
that could pose problems if courtrooms are not readily available. 

Orlando, Florida (Eleventh Circuit): 

Types of district judges sharing courtrooms on a regular basis: 

* Active judges. 

* Senior judges with 10 years or less in senior status. 

* Senior judges with more than 10 years in senior status. 

Approximate length of time courtroom sharing has been ongoing at the 
facility: 1.5 years. 

Reported experiences of active and/or senior judges at facilities 
where courtroom sharing was occurring: 

* Positive experiences: None reported. 

* Negative experiences: In a court with a heavy caseload and active 
trial calendars, the logistics of scheduling can affect the dispensing 
of justice. For instance, if the courtroom scheduling process gives 
priority to the district judge with more time in active status, the 
judge with less time in active status has to wait to set cases or 
conduct hearings. 

In addition, it is very difficult to coordinate courtroom use with six 
judges and four courtrooms, especially when lengthy trials and 
frequent trials are involved. When scheduling a single courtroom for 
more than one proceeding, the court staff must be sure that the length 
of time for one proceeding does not interfere with the scheduling of 
another proceeding. This is often impossible because proceedings often 
take longer than counsel estimate, which delays the other proceedings 
of all of the judges in a courtroom-sharing situation. 

Another complicating factor is courtroom size. When possible, 
courtroom size must be taken into consideration when courtrooms are 
scheduled because the size of a courtroom may be inappropriate for the 
proceeding. The consequence of courtroom sharing is that multiparty 
cases, which may be best scheduled for a large courtroom, sometimes 
have to be convened in a small courtroom because another judge may 
already be using the larger courtroom. 

Hearings and trials are sometimes delayed until a courtroom can be 
located. 

Difficulty in locating courtroom space can result in hearings not 
being scheduled and cases decided on written submissions (i.e., 
motions) instead of valuable oral arguments. 

Books and furniture for one judge must be moved to a different 
courtroom so that the materials used to make rulings are readily 
available for the judge when he or she needs them to make rulings. 

General comments: Renovations for one of the four district courtrooms 
have been planned and will cause further problems with courtroom 
sharing. The Orlando facility will be left with three rather than the 
current four district courtrooms for six active and senior judges. 
Courtroom sharing will not work in facilities undergoing renovation. 

Theoretically, and in an ideal world, courtroom sharing should work. 
However, in the real world, it leads to delays of justice, 
interference with managing the caseload, and the erosion of 
collegiality in a district that has frequent hearings and trials. In 
such a district, the number and length of trials cannot be controlled, 
and the number, length, and timing of hearings cannot be predicted. 
When all the judges in a division carry a substantial caseload and 
have frequent trials, courtroom sharing becomes a nightmare and 
defeats the purpose of the court, which is to dispense justice without 
delay. 

The court provided an example of the cascading effects of trying to 
deal with courtroom needs. A district judge was recently moved to a 
magistrate judge's courtroom, which left the magistrate judge without 
a courtroom. There were plans to renovate the facility's grand jury 
suite for magistrate judges to use as an alternate courtroom in the 
event that a district judge needed to use the magistrate judge's 
courtroom. However, after the grand jury suite has been renovated, 
space will be needed for the grand jury to meet. 

[End of section] 

Appendix IV: Comments from the Administrative Office of the U.S. 
Courts: 

Note: GAO comments supplementing those in the report text appear at 
the end of this appendix. 

Administrative Office Of The United States Courts: 
A Tradition of Service To The Federal Judiciary: 
Leonidas Ralph Mecham, Director: 
Clarence A. Lee, Jr., Associate Director: 
Washington, D.C. 20544: 

March 5, 2002: 

Mr. Bernard L. Ungar: 
Director, Physical Infrastructure: 
U.S. General Accounting Office: 
441 G Street, N.W. 
Washington, D.C. 20548: 

Dear Mr. Ungar: 

The Administrative Office appreciates the opportunity to comment on 
the draft report entitled Courtroom Construction: Information on 
Courtroom Sharing. Administrative Office staff met with 
representatives from your office on February 27, 2002, and based on 
discussions with them, we understand that the General Accounting 
Office (GAO) is incorporating suggested technical corrections. We 
would like to make a few additional points regarding the report. 

First of all, GAO has performed a valuable service in collecting and 
reporting information from senior judges who have experience with 
sharing courtrooms, and in describing an array of problems caused when 
sharing is required as well as a few particular situations where it 
has been found to work. This information confirms the judiciary's 
position that courtroom sharing is feasible only in limited 
circumstances. Mindful of the importance of a readily-accessible 
courtroom to the efficient administration of justice, nevertheless, 
the judiciary has demonstrated its commitment to identifying 
opportunities for courtroom sharing by senior district judges where it 
is feasible. As reflected in GAO's report, in March 1997, the United 
States Judicial Conference issued a policy on courtroom sharing with 
recommended planning assumptions for use by the circuit judicial 
councils in determining courtroom needs when planning courthouse 
projects. This policy recognizes that some senior district judges may 
not draw a caseload requiring substantial use of a courtroom. Also 
noted in GAO's report, each circuit judicial council has endorsed this 
concept and developed related policies for its implementation in 
planning new facilities. [See p. 18] 

GAO's report confirms the findings of Ernst & Young[Footnote 1] in May 
2000, which is that these policies have resulted in a 20 percent 
reduction in the number of courtrooms planned for new facilities. [See 
comment 1] GAO reports that courtroom sharing is planned in more than 
half of the projects involving senior judges. Some of the other 
projects are listed as having no planned courtroom sharing but, in 
fact, if visiting and rotating judges had been counted by GAO, these 
facilities also would be categorized as planning to include courtroom 
sharing. [See comment 2]Other projects show no planned courtroom 
sharing for the simple reason that they will not have senior judges 
meeting the criteria for sharing within the 10-year planning horizon. 
Since courthouses are used well beyond this horizon, courtroom 
assignments will, of course, change over time. Last year, the 
Administrative Office reported to Congress that the change in the 
judiciary's courtroom-planning guidelines would result in an estimated 
savings of $84.2 million over a three-year period.[Footnote 2] This 
substantial cost-avoidance clearly demonstrates the judiciary's 
commitment to reducing the cost of courthouse construction without 
impairing the judiciary's mission to administer justice. 

The GAO report accurately describes some of the judiciary's courtroom-
planning assumptions and recognizes the inherent uncertainties of long-
range planning. We were disappointed that the report did not comment 
on the validity of the planning assumptions, which are derived from 
historical data and reflect the best estimates available. As part of a 
comprehensive assessment of the judiciary's space and facilities 
program, the judiciary asked the consulting firm of Ernst and Young to 
evaluate the planning assumptions. Ernst & Young concluded that, 
"based on our analysis of data...these assumptions appear to be 
generally accurate."[Footnote 3] [See comment 3] 

GAO's discussion of the uncertainties in planning may unintentionally 
leave some readers with the impression that the precise timing of 
events is important, such as predicting exactly when an active judge 
will take senior status (most, but not all do so within the first year 
of eligibility) or when a judgeship vacancy will be filled. In fact, 
the timing of these events is immaterial in the long term. For 
example, GAO points out that Congress does not pass judgeship bills as 
frequently as the judiciary identifies new judgeship requirements. The 
judiciary's planning process recognizes that there is a delay in the 
congressional authorization process by assuming that new judgeships 
will be approved three years after they are needed. Even if Congress 
waits longer than this to provide a particular judgeship, whenever the 
position is ultimately created — whether it is in year two or year 
five — it is necessary for the requisite facilities to be available. 

The key purpose of a long-range planning process is to ensure that 
needed space will be constructed in new facilities. Ernst & Young 
concluded that "the judiciary has developed a logical process to 
assess its long-term housing needs...[that is] providing a reasonably 
accurate assessment of judges and staff, and associated facilities 
needs."[Footnote 4] Also, the judiciary's long-range facility planning 
process was nationally recognized when the Administrative Office 
received the General Services Administration's Annual Achievement 
Award for Real Property Innovation in 1998. 

Notwithstanding these achievements, we will continue to refine and 
improve the planning process and construct only the number of 
courtrooms needed. We appreciate the effort GAO has put into this 
report and hope that the findings will contribute to a better 
understanding of both the difficulties of courtroom sharing and the 
judiciary's efforts to implement courtroom sharing where it is cost-
effective to do so. 

Sincerely, 

Signed by: 

Clarence A. Lee, Jr. 
Associate Director: 

The following are GAO's comments on AOC's letter dated March 5, 2002. 

1. AOC said that the report confirmed the May 2000 Ernst and Young 
findings that courtroom-sharing policies resulted in a 20 percent 
reduction in the number of courtrooms planned for new facilities. Our 
report does state that 19 courthouse projects expect to have 113 
active judges, 90 senior judges, and 158 courtrooms. This equates to 
about 5 judges for every 4 courtrooms, which would indicate a 20 
percent reduction. In the 19 projects, the 44 senior judges expected 
to share courtrooms will have more than 10 years in senior status and 
will range in age from 75 to 98 years old at the end of the planning 
time frame. The 20 percent reduction would appear to be reasonable if 
it is assumed that, without the current courtroom sharing policies, 
the judiciary would have planned construction of new trial courtrooms 
for these senior judges. 

2. AOC mentioned that some future construction projects listed as 
having no plans for courtroom sharing would have been categorized as 
having courtroom sharing if we had counted visiting and rotating 
judges. Our analysis focused on identifying active and senior district 
judges who were expected to be permanently assigned to the 33 future 
courthouse construction projects for which the judiciary prepared 
courtroom needs assessment studies. We also focused on identifying 
senior judges who were expected to share courtrooms on a regular basis 
at these projects. We did not include visiting and rotating judges in 
our analysis because their visits are temporary in nature and usually 
for short periods of time. We clarified our scope and methodology to 
reflect this point. 

3. AOC expressed disappointment that we did not comment on the 
validity of the judiciary's courtroom planning assumptions. Our work 
was not designed to perform a detailed assessment of these 
assumptions, and, as such, we are not in a position to comment on 
their validity. 

4. AOC pointed out that our discussion of the uncertainties associated 
with the planning assumptions may unintentionally leave some readers 
with the impression that the precise timing of events is important, 
such as predicting exactly when an active judge will take senior 
status or when a judgeship vacancy will be filled. AOC goes on to say 
that the timing of these events is immaterial in the long term. As 
mentioned in the report, the timing of events will have a direct 
impact on the extent of and when courtroom sharing will occur during 
the planning period. Our discussion of the planning assumptions was 
intended to show that there is always some uncertainty associated with 
any assumptions used in a planning process and that the expected 
outcomes will be dependent on how well the assumptions materialize. 

Appendix IV Footnotes: 

[1] Ernst & Young LLP, Independent Assessment of the Judiciary's Space 
and Facilities Program, May 2000, at I-7. 

[2] Administrative Office of the United States Courts, Report to 
Congress on the Optimal Utilization of Judicial Resources, February 
2001, at 14. 

[3] Ernst & Young LLP, supra, at IV-10. 

[4] Ernst & Young LIP, supra, at I-6. 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] The judiciary has two categories of district judges who hear cases 
and use courtrooms. Active district judges carry full caseloads. 
District judges with senior status, whom we refer to in this report as 
senior judges, have retired from their active judgeships, but continue 
to carry a full or partial caseload. Senior status can be achieved 
when a district judge reaches the age and service eligibility 
requirements for retirement. 

[2] U.S. General Accounting Office, Courthouse Construction: 
Sufficient Data and Analysis Would Help Resolve the Courtroom-Sharing 
Issue, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-01-70] (Washington, 
D.C.: Dec. 14, 2000); and U.S. General Accounting Office, Courthouse 
Construction: Better Courtroom Use Data Could Enhance Facility 
Planning and Decisionmaking, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO/GGD-97-39] (Washington, D.C.: May 19, 
1997). 

[3] According to a May 2000 study by Ernst and Young—Independent 
Assessment of the Judiciary's Space and Facilities Program—the cost of 
constructing a courtroom is estimated to be about $1.5 million. 

[4] 28 U.S.C. § 462(b) provides circuit judicial councils with 
authority to approve accommodations for judges, including chambers and 
courtrooms. 

[5] In its policy statement, the Judicial Conference recommends that a 
3-year time frame be used when planning for the number of years it 
will take for a new judge position to be approved by the Judicial 
Conference and Congress. 

[6] The 1978 legislation was Public Law 95-486; the 1984 legislation 
was Public Law 98-353; the 1990 legislation was Public Law 101-650; 
the 1999 legislation was Public Law 106-113; and the 2000 legislation 
was Public Law 106-553. 

[End of section] 

GAO’s Mission: 

The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, 
exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional 
responsibilities and to help improve the performance and accountability 
of the federal government for the American people. GAO examines the use 
of public funds; evaluates federal programs and policies; and provides 
analyses, recommendations, and other assistance to help Congress make 
informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions. GAO’s commitment to 
good government is reflected in its core values of accountability, 
integrity, and reliability. 

Obtaining Copies of GAO Reports and Testimony: 

The fastest and easiest way to obtain copies of GAO documents at no 
cost is through the Internet. GAO’s Web site [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov] contains abstracts and fulltext files of current 
reports and testimony and an expanding archive of older products. The 
Web site features a search engine to help you locate documents using 
key words and phrases. You can print these documents in their entirety, 
including charts and other graphics. 

Each day, GAO issues a list of newly released reports, testimony, and 
correspondence. GAO posts this list, known as “Today’s Reports,” on its 
Web site daily. The list contains links to the full-text document 
files. To have GAO e-mail this list to you every afternoon, go to 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov] and select “Subscribe to daily E-mail 
alert for newly released products” under the GAO Reports heading. 

Order by Mail or Phone: 

The first copy of each printed report is free. Additional copies are $2 
each. A check or money order should be made out to the Superintendent 
of Documents. GAO also accepts VISA and Mastercard. Orders for 100 or 
more copies mailed to a single address are discounted 25 percent. 
Orders should be sent to: 

U.S. General Accounting Office: 
441 G Street NW, Room LM: 
Washington, D.C. 20548: 

To order by Phone: 
Voice: (202) 512-6000: 
TDD: (202) 512-2537: 
Fax: (202) 512-6061: 

To Report Fraud, Waste, and Abuse in Federal Programs Contact:
Web site: [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/fraudnet/fraudnet.htm]: 
E-mail: fraudnet@gao.gov: 
Automated answering system: (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7470: 

Public Affairs: 

Jeff Nelligan, managing director, NelliganJ@gao.gov: 
(202) 512-4800: 
U.S. General Accounting Office: 
441 G Street NW, Room 7149:
Washington, D.C. 20548: