Courtroom Tech Information: City Hall, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas

Updated: Mar 30



Before I get started, I just want to give a huge shout-out to my wife for taking the above picture of City Hall. What a shot. Feel free to use it as you wish - it makes for a great laptop background!


I digress:


Litigating in Philadelphia City Hall presents unique challenges for attorneys who like to use presentation technology.


Philadelphia City Hall, formally known as Philadelphia's Court of Common Pleas, was constructed in 1871 and consists of large courtrooms with high ceilings, thick concrete walls, and very limited technology. The courtrooms themselves are in fact beautiful and have crown molding, tall windows and historic paintings throughout. It's a pretty neat place to work a trial, given the history and architecture of the building.


When it comes to modern technology, however, City Hall only has one courtroom outfitted with a presentation system (spoiler alert, the system does not work very well).


Because of this, trial teams often have to hire outside trial consulting and equipment vendors to help properly present their case. Equipment such as projectors, screens, and monitors , speakers, etc. have to be brought in to effectively communicate visuals to a jury.


On top of all that Philadelphia City Hall manages it's trial docket by placing upcoming matter's into monthly "Trial Pools". Attorneys are given a potential month for their trial and then only given 24-48 hours notice of their presiding judge and their assigned courtroom. This forces the respective trial teams to quickly assemble their arguments, hire necessary vendors, and organize any other logistics.

When called to trial on short notice in Philadelphia, attorneys need to be sure they are hiring a vendor with the right City Hall experience and insight. As Philadelphia veterans, Prevail is used to dealing with the Philadelphia trial pools and can be ready on short notice. Our Philadelphia office is conveniently located at 1500 Market and we can be in any courtroom within minutes.

What are the Courtrooms Like?



The courtrooms in City Hall come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from the very large to the awkwardly small. Acoustics in mostly all of the courtrooms are generally poor because most have very high ceilings. Combine that with frequent interruptions from police sirens or ambulances during proceedings, it is important to make sure you a properly prepared with a strong A/V system.


The courtroom that you are assigned to will dictate what presentation technology you can/should be using. The larger courtrooms have a lot of natural light and can sometimes make screens difficult to see in the light. The smaller courtrooms require smaller setups and less screens in order to not overwhelm the room.


For large format City Hall courtrooms we recommend the following:

  • 120" Projector Screen 16:9 Ratio (no smaller than 100")

  • HD Projector 3500+ Lumens (minimum 2500+ Lumens)

  • 6 Monitors (Judge, Witness, Clerk, Plaintiff Counsel, Defense Counsel, Trial Consultant)

  • Overhead Document Camera (Elmo)

  • Laser Pointer that will carry light across a bright room

  • Strong Speakers (don't forget a second Aux Chord for the other side!)

  • Various 25ft, 50ft, and 100ft HDMI Chords

  • Various 25FT, 50FT, and 100FT Extension chords

  • Multiple power strips (can never have enough of these!)

  • 50" TV on Rolling Cart (just in case)


For small format City Hall courtrooms we recommend the following:

  • 100" Projector Screen (16:9 or 4:3 Ratio depending on how small the room is)

  • HD Projector 3500+ Lumens (minimum 2500+ Lumens)

  • 2 Monitors (Judge, Witness)

  • Overhead Document Camera (Elmo)

  • Laser Pointer

  • Speakers

  • Various 10ft, 15ft, 25ft HDMI Chords

  • Various 10ft, 15ft, 25ft Extension Chords

  • Multiple Power Strips (can never have enough of these!)

What do the Judges prefer?


Every judge in City Hall (or any courthouse for that matter) has their own preferences when it comes to the use of technology for trial.


As a general rule of thumb, Judges expect the use of technology to help their courtrooms run smoother. Presentation technology in litigation should always increase the efficiency of the proceeding and help everyone understand the case through visual aids. When used improperly, presentation technology can bog down proceedings and irritate the presiding judge. Be sure to hire the right vendor who can properly manage all facets of a courtroom presentation system.


For Philadelphia City Hall Judges, it is no different. Every judge is different and has their own set of rules. Be sure to check in with the clerk before trial to get an idea for the size of the courtroom and the judge's preferences.


In our experience, mostly all City Hall judges are okay with the use of technology and have become accustomed to the benefits that a good Courtroom Setup can provide. The judges who preside over larger courtrooms with lots of natural light especially appreciate when trial teams bring in big, bright screens for everyone to see.


Jurors nowadays expect some level of technical sophistication when it comes to presentation at trial, and judges are happy to make their jobs easier through the use of technology.


For more information on specific courtrooms and individual Judge's preferences, email me at RHobbs@prevailtrial.com.









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