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Judicial Conference Approves Courthouse Construction Priorities; Courthouse Guidelines for Portable Communication Devices

The Judicial Conference of the United States today approved an updated list of courthouse construction priorities and guidelines for portable communications devices in courthouses.  

The Fiscal Year 2019 Courthouse Project Priorities (CPP) list (pdf) is a two-part document that includes projects for which the Judiciary will request funding in its annual budget submission and a prioritized list of future courthouse project requirements.  The FY 19 funding priorities are Harrisburg, PA; Huntsville, AL; and Fort Lauderdale, FL. The Conference added McAllen, TX to its list of future funding priorities, which also include Chattanooga, TN; San Juan, PR; McAllen, TX; and Norfolk, VA.

The CPP is based on the Asset Management Planning (AMP) process, which was adopted by the Conference in 2008. The AMP assesses all federal courthouses to determine current and future needs, considering factors including a building’s condition, functionality, security, compliance with space standards, courtroom and chambers needs, and caseload growth.

The updated CPP will be transmitted to Congress, which appropriates funds to GSA for courthouse construction.    

The guidance on portable communication devices (pdf) provides courts with information relating to use of these devices in the courthouse, including an overview of court policies and issues that courts should consider addressing in their local policies. Decisions about how these devices can be used are made on a court-by-court basis. This guidance updates guidance last provided in 2010. It does not impact the Judicial Conference’s prohibition on recording, photographing or broadcasting district court proceedings.

The 26-member Judicial Conference is the policy-making body for the federal court system. By statute, the Chief Justice of the United States serves as its presiding officer and its members are the chief judges of the 13 courts of appeals, a district judge from each of the 12 geographic circuits, and the chief judge of the Court of International Trade. The Conference meets twice a year to consider administrative and policy issues affecting the court system, and to make recommendations to Congress concerning legislation involving the Judicial Branch.