U.S. Courts Design Guide
Location of Security Systems
Duress Alarm Devices. A duress alarm device must be located at the bench. In
appeals courtrooms, the center position of the panel must be equipped with the
alarm button. Additional bench locations for alarms must be provided in en banc
courtrooms. The courtroom deputy clerk and bailiff stations must also have a
duress alarm device, allowing them to alert the USMS Command and Control
Center without being detected.
Main Entrance Door. For special high-threat courtrooms, provisions must be
made for a walk-through metal detector and/or x-ray machine. The system requires
installation of a 20-amp, 120-volt alternating current (AC) receptacle on a
dedicated power system outside the courtroom entrance. The outlets must avoid
exposed cord connections.
Secondary Egress Door. If egress is through public circulation, no special
requirements are necessary. If egress is through restricted circulation, doors must
be equipped with fail-safe electric locks or strikes operated through the fire-alarm
system. The secondary egress door, used by the judge, must have free access from
restricted circulation and be equipped with a keylock or electronic access control
device in the courtroom. Doors used by the judge that are not fire exits must have
free access from restricted circulation and be equipped with a key lock or electronic
access control device.
Closed Circuit Television. Provisions must be made for closed circuit television
(CCTV) cameras in USCA, USDC, magistrate judge, and USBC courtrooms. The
cameras are connected to the USMS Command and Control Center and may be
activated by a duress alarm device.
Courtrooms should have one CCTV camera, typically mounted on the back wall,
with a view of the entire well area. Large special proceedings and en banc
courtrooms will have an additional camera mounted on the front wall. Recessed
housings should be provided for cameras in the wall or ceiling. Cameras must be
positioned to prevent room lighting from interfering with the view or picture
Door Locks. All courtroom entrances must be provided with keylocks. Each
courtroom must be keyed separately with a sub-master.
Ballistic Shielding. All judges' benches must be lined with ballistic material (UL
Standard 752, Level III) on all vertical surfaces.