APR 29 1996 The Honorable Curt Weldon Member, U.S.

House of Representatives 1554 Garrett Road Upper Darby, Pennsylvania 19082 Dear Congressman Weldon: I am responding to your letter on behalf of your constituent, Judge James P. MacElree II of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, Pennsylvania, regarding the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Please excuse our delay in responding. Judge MacElree's letter expresses concern that the requirements of the ADA for alteration of courtrooms increase the costs of the planned alterations and limit the functionality of courtroom design. Specifically, Judge MacElree believes that the ADA requires a ramp or lift at any elevated judge's bench, witness stand, jury box, or clerk's stand and that any ramp must be 16 feet long for every 6 inches of height. The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by State and local government agencies, including courts. The Department of Justice's regulations implementing title II (enclosed) specify that whenever an entity covered by title II undertakes an alteration to a facility, the altered area must be made accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. The standard of accessibility to be applied may be either the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS), 41 C.F.R. pt. 101-19.6, Appendix A, or the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (Standards), 28 C.F.R. pt. 36, Appendix A (enclosed). Both the ADA Standards and UFAS require all altered public and common use areas to be made accessible. Therefore, jury boxes and witness stands must be accessible to individuals with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs. In order to be considered accessible, a jury box or witness stand must be reachable by an accessible route, must contain at least one accessible wheelchair space (a removable seat may be installed in cc: Records; Chrono; Wodatch; McDowney; Hill; FOIA \udd\hille\policyltr\weldon.ltr\sc. young-parran 01-04241 ​ -2the space when it is not needed to accommodate a wheelchair), and must be served by an unobstructed turning space. Any fixed counters or operating mechanisms in a jury box or witness stand

must be accessible. Judge MacElree seems most concerned about the requirement that an accessible route be provided to the accessible areas. The ADA does require such an accessible route. If the accessible juror or witness seating is not raised, such an accessible route consists simply of a level route with adequate width and head room. If the accessible seating is raised, a ramp that complies with ADA Standard 4.8 or UFAS 4.8 must generally be provided. Such a ramp need not be 16 feet long for each 6 inches of height, however, as Judge MacElree believes. Rather, it must generally have a 1:12 slope, i.e., 1 foot long for every 1 inch high (a 6inch high ramp would, therefore, only have to be 6 feet long). In addition, in alterations, if space limitations prohibit use of a 1:12 ramp, a steeper slope may be used. As Judge MacElree notes, the requirement that some juror and witness seats be level or ramped may alter traditional courtroom design. This alteration is necessary, however, to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the same opportunities to participate fully in their communities that non-disabled individuals have, including the opportunities for jury service and for participation as witnesses in legal proceedings. Judge MacElree has also asked about accessibility of judges' benches and clerks' and reporters' stands. The UFAS and ADA Standards do not provide specific scoping requirements for such spaces. However, one of the purposes of the ADA is to increase employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Therefore, the ADA generally requires construction to be accomplished in such a way that it will not pose an obstacle to employment of individuals with disabilities. In order to balance traditional courtroom design with the need to avoid obstacles to employment, the Department of Justice has recently issued proposed design standards for courtrooms (enclosed). If adopted, such standards would require judges' benches and clerks' stations to be either fully accessible or adaptable, at the discretion of the builder. An adaptable bench or station would be designed to contain necessary maneuvering clearances and other spaces so full accessibility can easily be achieved when an employee requires it. For example, an adaptable judges' bench would not need a ramp if it were designed so that a ramp or lift can be easily installed at a later date. Under the proposed rule, court reporters' stations, bailiffs' stations, and counsel and litigants' stations must be fully accessible. The Department believes that requiring full accessibility of these areas will have minimal conflict with traditional courtroom design. In addition, full accessibility is 01-04242

-3justified by the more fungible nature of these positions, i.e., more than one person may use these stations, which increases the likelihood that an individual with a disability will need to use the stations. I hope this information will assist you in responding to your constituent. Sincerely, Deval L. Patrick Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division Enclosures 01-04243 CURT WELDON SECURITY 7TH DISTRICT, PENNSYLVANIA DEVELOPMENT, CHAIRMAN COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL RESEARCH AND


The Honorable Sheila F. Anthony Assistant Attorney General Office of Legislative Affairs Department of Justice Constitution & 10th Street, NW Washington, D.C. 20530 Dear Ms. Anthony: You will find enclosed a copy of correspondence I have received from Judge James MacElree. The information, I feel, is self-explanatory. I would appreciate your reviewing the enclosed letter and providing me with written information that would be helpful to my constituent. Please forward your response to my District Office at 1554 Garrett Road, Upper Darby, PA 19082. Thank you in advance for any assistance you may be able to provide in this matter. Sincerely, CURT WELDON Member of Congress CW:bt Enclosure THIS STATIONERY PRINTED ON PAPER MADE OF RECYCLED FIBERS 01-04244 COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF CHESTER COUNTY 15TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA WEST CHESTER, PENNSYLVANIA 19380 (610) 344-6000 October 5, 1995 Senator Arlen Spector 530 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 Senator Rick Santorium B-40 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510

Congressman Curt Weldon 2452 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515 Dear Senators Spector, Santorium and Congressman Weldon: I am a Common Pleas Judge in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Previously, I served as District Attorney having been elected three times. Currently Chester County is in the process of refurbishing the 4th floor of our Courthouse, which housed the offices of probation and parole, and converting that space into three courtrooms. We have been advised by a federal official in the American Disabilities Act Division that our courtroom plans are not acceptable for the following reasons: We cannot have an elevated judge's bench without a forty foot (40') ramp or elevated lift, even though none of our judges needs a lift or ramp. We cannot have an elevated witness stand without a sixteen foot (16') ramp or lift, even if we provide a space in front of the witness stand large enough for a wheelchair so that a disabled person could testify from that location. In the past three years no person in a wheelchair had been presented as a witness in my courtroom. We cannot have an elevated jury box without a sixteen foot (16') ramp or lift, even if we provide a location in front of, or at the edge of, the jury box for a wheelchair. 01-04245

Senator Arlen Spector Senator Rick Santorium Congressman Curt Weldon Page Two October 5, 1995 We cannot have an elevated area for the clerk and court reporter without a ramp or lift, even though we have no disabled clerks or reporters who would need to use a ramp or lift. I am advised by our Engineering Department that the ramp being

required by the federal official must be 16' long for each 6" of height. The result would be to destroy the functionality of the courtrooms. This extreme application of the A.D.A. will have the effect of: (1) Destroying the functional design of virtually every courtroom, county, state and federal, in the United States of America to which it is applied; Driving the cost of any new or refurbished courtrooms so high as to discourage any construction or refurbishment; Severely limiting the ability of county and state courts to supply an adequate number of courtrooms to be used by the citizens. (The federal system seems to exempt itself or, at least in the last 40 years, prints the extra money it needs.

(2) (3)

I pose the following questions: (1) Did Congress intend the A.D.A. to be applied as indicated above to effectively destroy the fundamental design of courtrooms? Can you assist us (the Judges and Commissioners in Chester County) in obtaining a sensible and speedy federal review of our courtroom plans? If the answer to #1 is yes, will you move to amend or eliminate the A.D.A. as applied under these circumstances?



We need your assistance quickly as we have judges working in small "temporary" courtrooms which are grossly inadequate to serve the public. We also have the need to increase the number of judges handling the enormous flood of litigation. This may require the construction of even more courtrooms in the future. 01-04246

Senator Arlen Spector Senator Rick Santorium Congressman Curt Weldon Page Three October 5, 1995 During the past twenty (20) plus years that I have been trying cases I can't recall being in a courtroom (county, state or

federal) where the judge's bench, the witness box and at least the back row of the jury box was not on a raised platform. I wonder at what point do these "politically correct" statutes do more harm than good? Have we lost all common sense? Will our great country be dragged down and suffocated by its own regulations? Sincerely, James P. MacElree II JPM:mpl cc: Chester County Commissioners Chester County Judges 01-04247