What Is a Courtroom? (with pictures) (2023)


Fact Checked

Renee Booker

Renee Booker Last Modified Date: February 04, 2023

When a legal dispute arises, or someone has been charged with a crime, the proceedings take place in a courtroom. The appearance of a courtroom may be significantly different depending on the jurisdiction, as well as the type of case being litigated. At a bare minimum, a judge, magistrate, or commissioner will be found in a courtroom, as well as someone to officially report the proceedings and the parties to the litigation.

The appearance and layout of a courtroom may range from cavernous, formal, and ornate to intimate, informal, and casual. The Supreme Court of the United States, for instance, hears cases in a courthouse that was first used in 1790 and retains the grandeur and formality of its age. At the other end of the spectrum, many administrative law hearings are held in agency offices with no formal reminders of a traditional courthouse. The average courtroom, however, falls somewhere between the two, having the look and feel of a place worthy of respect, but where business is also conducted on a regular basis.

Judicial hearings are held in a courtroom, and may involve witness testimony.

The judge often sits on the "judge's bench" in the front of the room slightly elevated above the rest of the courtroom. On either side of the judge may be found the bailiff and court reporter whose jobs are to keep order in the room and officially report on the proceedings, respectively. Facing the judge in front of the room are two tables for the parties to the action and their respective counsel. Behind the parties is where the spectators sit in what is called the gallery. Along the sides, there is generally room for the jury to sit when convened to hear and decide a case.

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A judge may utilize a gavel in a courtroom.

A jury may be called upon to hear and decide either a civil or criminal case. Jury selection as well as the number of people that make up a jury will differ from one jurisdiction to the next; however, the job of a jury remains the same. The jury members are charged with listening to the evidence presented by both parties and render a decision at the end of the trial.

A courtroom typically features a jury box, where the members of the jury sit.

All types of judicial proceedings are heard in a courtroom, from initial arraignments to sentencing in criminal matters, and from preliminary hearings to jury trials in civil cases. Upon entering a courtroom, proper respect should be given to the judge and the judicial process. No one should talk unless spoken to by the judge or another member of the court staff.

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Discussion Comments


@ceilingcat - I can understand feeling uncomfortable. Once I had to go observe some court proceedings for a class I was taking. I felt a bit out of place, but luckily our teacher had told us ahead of time how to dress and how to act.

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She warned us that certain objects can't be brought into a courthouse, such as a pocket knife. She also told us that you should dress more formally for a courtroom than a regular day. She suggested business casual attire.

Even though I was a little intimidated about just going into a courtroom and observing, thanks to my teachers preparation, I actually blended right in.


@shell4life - Courtrooms are pretty intimidating! I accompanied my (now ex) boyfriend to court for some major traffic violations once. I felt very uncomfortable even though I wasn't the one in trouble.

On the other hand, I guess my boyfriend wasn't intimidated enough. He didn't even get a lawyer to help him with his case and he ended up getting a pretty harsh sentence considering the nature of the infraction. I can't help thinking if he'd taken the whole process a bit more seriously and gotten a lawyer things would have gone a bit better for him.


I try to avoid courtrooms at all costs. I had to be a spectator in one when my boyfriend was on trial for a crime he did not commit. The prosecution had no DNA evidence. They sent him to prison for a long time based only on circumstantial evidence.

So, a courtroom is a source of bad memories for me. Several people think I’m horrible for this, but I never registered to vote, because I heard that people are selected for jury duty from a list of registered voters.

I can’t bear to sit where those jurors sat who convicted my boyfriend. I am willing to surrender my rights as a voter to avoid facing this pain.


I had to drive my friend to a courtroom because she had lost her license due to several DUIs. I had to wait with her in the gallery until the judge called her name, because they needed to see that she didn’t drive herself there.

Dozens of people were there for various reasons, mostly traffic ticket related. We waited while several others approached the bench and spoke to the judge. I felt intimidated and anxious, even though I wasn’t in any sort of trouble.

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The judge sat in an elevated area, and perhaps this added to my intimidation. All he did to my friend was tell her the amount of her fine. She paid it and got her license back without any further punishment.

All my anxiety had been for nothing. I don’t even think she was as nervous as I was.


When I had to serve on jury duty, it was for a civil case that didn't last very long. There was also a criminal case that was going on at the same time in the courthouse that had some media coverage.

Even though the layout of both rooms is pretty much the same, the atmosphere in the criminal courtroom was certainly different than the civil courtroom where I was.

I am glad that I didn't have jury duty for the criminal trial. This ended up being a long trial, and I think would have been a much harder emotional experience too.


Being in a courtroom can be a little intimidating if this is your first experience. Once when my son was 16, he got a speeding ticket and mistakenly handed the policeman outdated insurance papers.

When he realized his mistake and showed the policeman the current papers, the ticket had already been made out. It was then his responsibility to go to court and show the judge that he had current insurance papers when he received the ticket.

Even though I was frustrated by this because he had the current papers on him, it was a real learning experience for my son.

It was kind of scary for him to walk in that courtroom and approach the judge when it was his turn. I hoped it had enough of an impact on him that it would make him a more cautious driver in the future.

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We were in a small room of the courthouse with a courtroom layout that wasn't as big as what my son had seen on TV. Hearing his name called and standing before the judge was what seemed the most intimidating for him.


Every time I think of courtroom procedures I can stop thinking about the movie, “My Cousin Vinny”. It was so funny because Joe Pesci who played the lawyer defending Ralph Macchio’s character had never tried a case before and made all kinds of courtroom etiquette mistakes.

First of all, this lawyer came to the courtroom dressed in a leather jacket and did not address the judge by the traditional “Your Honor”. He addressed the judge as he would a friend off the street. It was so funny.

He also used slang and was not prepared for much of the trial. The best part of the movie was when he asked his girlfriend played by Marisa Tomei to take the stand as an expert courtroom witness which stunned everyone because she knew so much about how cars functioned and everyone thought she was just another pretty face. They actually won the case because of her testimony.


@Sunny27 - People want to hear about criminal cases and are more engaged in the criminal justice system as a result. Learning about courtroom procedures is valuable to a lot of people. By watching a trial you also learn about courtroom evidence and what is admissible and what is not. You also get to see how both courtroom attorneys develop their cases.

This can be a learning tool for a lot of people especially if justice prevails in the end. I realize that when a trial is televised it does create a heightened awareness of this particular trial, but sometimes there might be some effective dialogue that people can have because of it. For example, the OJ Simpson case raised the issue of domestic violence while the Casey Anthony trial highlighted child abuse.

While you can say that both of these cases were sensationalized it did bring more attention to causes relating to the victim’s rights in these respective areas.


I think that when cameras are allowed in the courtroom it tends to change the courtroom terms a bit. More of the people involved tend to play up to the cameras and become more dramatic than they normally would have been in order to look good in front of the cameras.

They are more focused on their appearance than representing the people involved. This is why I think that court cases should not be televised because it tends to turn a trial into a circus.

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The justice system should be respected and not turned into another reality show by allowing cameras in the courtroom. The OJ Simpson trial was a perfect example. The people ordinary people involved in that case became famous because the trial was on television every day. I think that when a case becomes this huge it overshadows other important cases that we never hear about in the media.

Post your comments


    Why do some courtrooms have cameras? ›

    Pro-camera arguments state that public viewing leads to transparency in the justice system. In the end, it's often up to judges whether their proceedings become must-see TV or not.

    Why do courtrooms have a gallery? ›

    The Gallery

    Members of the public, including those who come to court to support a family member or friend, sit in this area. Defendants who are free on bail (or OR) usually sit in the spectator area of the courtroom until their cases are called by the courtroom clerk, bailiff, or judge.

    Why are there no pictures in the courtroom? ›

    In 1972 the Judicial Conference of the United States adopted a prohibition against "broadcasting, televising, recording, or taking photographs in the courtroom and areas immediately adjacent thereto." The prohibition, which was contained in the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, applied to criminal and civil ...

    Can you use photos in court? ›

    In order for photo and video evidence to be admissible in court it must meet two basic requirements: relevance and authenticity. In order for evidence to be relevant it must have probative value. In other words, it must either support or undermine the truth of any point at issue in the legal proceedings.

    Which states allow cameras in the courtroom? ›

    2022) Nearly every state in the union has provisions to allow the media to use video cameras and microphones in courtrooms in some circumstances. In some, cameras are a routine sight at the trial court level. In others, on the state's appellate courts or supreme court have cameras, operated by the courts themselves.

    What does court in camera mean? ›

    A Latin term literally meaning "in chambers" but carrying the meaning "in private". This refers to portions of a case that are held in private before a judge. The press and the public are not allowed to take part. courts. subject.

    Can you sit in the public gallery of a court? ›

    Visitors who wish to watch court proceedings from the public galleries are requested to dress appropriately or entry to the court building will be refused. No large bags or rucksacks are allowed in the building, though handbags are acceptable. Also no electronic devices, food or drink are allowed.

    What is the role of a public gallery in court? ›

    Court cases can be long and complicated.
    The courtroom.
    Public galleryis where your support person, family members, friends, journalists or other members of the public can sit
    Court officer/bailiffhelps the judge and people coming into the court. They administer oaths and affirmations to witnesses.
    15 more rows

    How much do courtroom sketch artists make? ›

    The salaries of Court Artists in the US range from $10,353 to $215,333 , with a median salary of $38,796 .

    What crime takes pictures without consent? ›

    RA 995 punishes the taking of a photo or video of others engaged in sexual activity or with the image of the private area of the person without their consent.

    What do photo judges look for? ›

    Some Things to Look For

    Impact may depend upon timeliness, originality, contrast between light and dark, humour, mood, dramatic effect, human appeal. the one aspect that gives the picture its appeal. photo.

    Do they still do courtroom sketches? ›

    Even with the advancements of modern photography, there is still a need for courtroom sketch artists. Some jurisdictions, for example, still do not allow cameras of any kind in their courtrooms. In many jurisdictions, judges may decide to put a ban on cameras in the courtroom for nearly any reason.

    Are pictures good evidence? ›

    However, in most cases the best piece of evidence can be pictures. Pictures are the only type of proof that does not come from an opinion, recollection or interpretation of the accident or scene. Instead, a picture paints a secure and accurate image of the scene.

    Is a photo hearsay? ›

    As “demonstrative evidence,” photographs and videos are not testimony subject to cross-examination, and are not hearsay.

    What is it called when someone takes a picture of you without you knowing? ›

    Secret photography refers to the use of an image or video recording device to photograph or film a person who is unaware that they are being intentionally photographed or filmed. It is sometimes called covert photography.

    Can the government look at your camera? ›

    Your every moment can be tracked through your mobile device (both Android and iOS). Government security agencies like the NSA also have access to your devices- where they can listen to your phone calls, read your messages, capture pictures of you, stream videos of you, read your emails, and more.

    Are cameras banned in courtrooms? ›

    Under Rule 1.150, the "Cameras Rule, judges use discretion when allowing cameras and other recording devices into their courtroom. There is a process for media when making a request. to submit their request at least five court days before the portion of the proceeding to be covered begins.

    Does the government watch you through your camera? ›

    “The easy answer is yes, [the FBI] has the capability of [monitoring through laptop cameras],” Meinrath said. “The more complicated area is when and how.”

    What is an in camera court hearing? ›

    What does in camera mean? In Latin, the word camera means “chamber” (room) so in camera means “in chambers” or “in private”, or behind closed doors. This translation illustrates the idea behind in camera court cases: the public is not allowed to attend.

    What does proceedings held in camera mean? ›

    The process is commonly referred to as "in camera" proceedings. Essentially, this process allows the identity of the witness to remain anonymous, while still enabling the witness to give admissible evidence which is capable of being cross-examined and challenged.

    What does conducted in camera mean? ›

    In-camera proceeding is used in sensitive cases essentially to protect the privacy of the parties. Simply put, 'in-camera' proceeding is a proceeding carried out in private, in the absence of the public and the press.

    Can you just walk into court? ›

    Court and tribunal hearings in England and Wales usually take place in public. This means you can observe them whether you're a journalist, academic or member of the public.

    What do you wear to a court public gallery? ›

    Visitors to the public galleries are requested to dress appropriately (no vests or shorts for men; no low-cut tops or short skirts for women) or entry to the court building may be refused. Smart casual dress is advised.

    Can you dress up for court? ›

    Pro Tip: Dress like you have respect for the court

    Whether you're going to be a witness, juror, plaintiff or defendant, your favorite t-shirt is not the place for a courtroom. The general rule of thumb when going to court is you should dress conservatively.

    What does it mean to be represented by a gallery? ›

    When an artist is represented by a gallery, he or she has to pay a part of the profit as commission for every sold artwork. The amount varies from gallery to gallery and is usually decided upon by both parties and drafted into a secure contract. If you are an independent artist, the entire amount comes to you.

    What are gallery workers called? ›

    What Is a Gallerist? A gallerist is an owner or operator of an art gallery. Gallerists buy and sell artworks, and often focus on higher-end pieces that carry premium prices. The job responsibilities range from the technical—such as how to display artworks—to operational, such as keeping the gallery running properly.

    Why do courtroom artists still exist? ›

    A courtroom sketch is an artistic depiction of the proceedings in a court of law. In many jurisdictions, cameras are not allowed in courtrooms in order to prevent distractions and preserve privacy. This requires news media to rely on sketch artists for illustrations of the proceedings.

    Do police still use sketch artists? ›

    Forensic sketch artists serve and protect with paper and pens. While it's true that high-tech digital instruments sharpen the accuracy and validity of witness testimonies, paper and pencil facial sketches still play a significant role in criminal investigations.

    How do courtroom artists draw so fast? ›

    Sketch artists work in a pressure cooker environment. They're often called to court by news agencies on a day's notice or less and need to render their drawings quickly.

    Can someone take a picture of my car without my permission? ›

    However, owners of private property have no right to prevent you from photographing their property, as long as you are not trespassing. In terms of the law, trespass is defined as entering or interfering with private property without the owner's permission.

    Can I sue someone for video recording me without my permission? ›

    When You Can Sue. You can sue someone for recording you without your permission on your private property or in places where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Such public property includes your doctor's office, a locker room, or any place where you were expecting privacy.

    Is it legal to send dirty pictures? ›

    If a sexual or suggestive picture of an adult is shared among consenting adults in the State of California, that is perfectly legal. However, generally speaking, it is illegal to electronically share sexual images of a person, taken without their knowledge or consent.

    Is photograph considered as a strong evidence in court? ›

    A very important use of photographs as evidence, and probably the most common one, is the use as explanatory or illustrative evidence, and their purpose is to enable the jury to better understand the testimony of the witnesses.

    How do I prove I have court photos? ›

    It cannot be marked during cross-examination of the opponent or his witnesses. 16. Generally, photographs are admissible only if the photograph has been properly verified on oath by a person able to speak to its accuracy.

    Who draws pictures in court? ›

    What does a Courtroom Sketch Artist do? A Courtroom Sketch Artist draws pictures of a trial when cameras are barred from the courtroom. Judges may decide to ban cameras for many different reasons. For example, cameras are sometime banned from high profile cases (like ones involving celebrities).

    What is the purpose of a court sketcher? ›

    Their major skill needs to be in memorising what the scene looks like as NOBODY is allowed to make a drawing in court. However court artists can make written notes about manner and clothing.

    How accurate are criminal sketches? ›

    Police Sketch Accuracy. Hard statistics are difficult to come by, but some research suggests that facial sketches or composite pictures of suspected criminals are useful less than 20% of the time. Other studies put the percentage even lower – maybe as low as 8%.

    What type of evidence is a picture? ›

    Illustrative evidence: charts, graphs, photos, models, or recordings, such as a video of an employee harassing another employee.

    What is the best evidence in court? ›

    The core element of the best evidence rule is “proof of content.” The rule requires the production of the original of a writing, recording, or photograph only when a party is seeking to prove the contents of the writing, recording, or photograph (e.g. Flynn v Manhattan & Bronx Surface Tr.

    What evidence is a picture? ›

    Photographic evidence consists of the images captured by an investigator or forensic photographer at a crime scene that indicate critical information about the crime.

    Are pictures freedom of speech? ›

    Our brief explained that photography is protected by the First Amendment—even if it's not political and even if the photos are taken for money, just as a lot of writing and art is done for money. Creators of expression have a First Amendment right to choose which expression they want to create.

    Is a photograph truth? ›

    Photographs don't lie. To say a photograph lies is to believe that there can be such a thing as an objectively truthful photograph. There can never be. All photographs present a truth: their makers'.

    Is Camera a evidence? ›

    Just like all evidence, tape collected by a surveillance camera must be properly obtained by law enforcement for it to be admissible in court. That means that typically, the police need a warrant to acquire the evidence—without one, the evidence itself, and any discoveries it may lead to, could be thrown out.

    What do you call a person who takes a lot of pictures of themselves? ›

    Selfitis” is a term coined to describe the cultural habit of taking an overabundance of photos of oneself and posting them on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and other social media sites.

    What happens if a stranger takes a picture of you? ›

    Never take photos of people without their permission, and try to be aware of your surroundings. If you see someone taking your photo without your permission, it's your right to ask him or her to stop. If you're undressed and someone is taking your photo, put in a call to the police.

    What do you call a person who is addicted to taking pictures? ›

    shut·​ter·​bug ˈshə-tər-ˌbəg. Synonyms of shutterbug. : a photography enthusiast.

    Why are cameras in the courtroom bad? ›

    The defendant's case may end up suffering more, including a violation of their Sixth Amendment rights, which establish the right to an impartial jury. A defendant may even make matters worse for themselves if they act (or don't act) a certain way on camera and cause public backlash as a result.

    Are cameras allowed in courtrooms in America? ›

    In the US, photography and broadcasting is permitted in some courtrooms but not in others. Some argue that use of media during courtroom proceedings presents a mockery of the judicial system, though the issue has been contested at length.

    Should cameras be installed in every courtroom? ›

    The Supreme Court on Wednesday clarified that its orders directing the government to install closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in courts and tribunals is meant solely for security purposes and not to record proceedings, which anyway were open to the public.

    Do criminals care about cameras? ›

    Are cameras a good crime deterrent? Cameras are a good crime deterrent, as 60 percent of most burglars will choose another target if they find alarms or cameras, according to a study from the University of North Carolina's Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology.

    Why are secret recordings not in court? ›

    Although laws change from state to state, in California, it is against the law to record someone without that person's knowledge or consent. According to California Penal Code Section 632, California is a two-party state, meaning that both parties being recorded must consent to the recording.

    Can you use camera as evidence? ›

    Yes, CCTV footage can serve as evidence in court for proving someone was at a particular location or for proving that a crime was committed. However, it's not always a straightforward process. Primarily, a CCTV system must be compliant with restrictions under the Data Protection Act to be admissible in court.

    Can you watch a court case? ›

    Are court hearings open to the public? Yes. The general rule is that hearings are held in public and, in principle, anyone, including the press, can attend a hearing that is held in public.

    Can you FaceTime in a court room? ›

    Permission from the presiding judge or special master is required. The court uses enterprise-level videoconferencing, such as Polycom, Cisco, and Lifesize. The court does not support consumer-level videoconferencing, such as Skype or FaceTime.

    Why is there no video in court? ›

    Let's start with the basics: A trial's primary focus is truth-seeking and fairness, not entertainment. The broadcasting of court proceedings would increase the likelihood of contamination of the evidence.

    What are the rules that apply when taking photographs in the courtroom? ›

    Courtroom Photographing and Broadcasting Prohibited. Except as otherwise provided by a statute or these rules, the court must not permit the taking of photographs in the courtroom during judicial proceedings or the broadcasting of judicial proceedings from the courtroom.

    Do cameras in public places violate human rights Why? ›

    There are no laws that prohibit surveillance cameras in public places. And more than half of the reviewed citizens think that cameras would not be an invasion of privacy if they were put in places that are not private, like in the parking lots or in business.

    Are camera cases necessary? ›

    There are many reasons to carry your camera and lenses in protective gear, such as cases. You might want a waterproof camera case to keep your equipment safe from moisture damage, or perhaps you're looking for a case that stores everything together. Maybe you need a malleable case that fits easily in your backpack.

    Can you attend court via video? ›

    During the Covid pandemic, court and tribunal hearings took place by video or phone call. These types of hearings are often called 'remote' hearings. Now, many hearings are taking in place in traditional court buildings again. However, some hearings will continue to take place by video or phone call.

    Do courtrooms have microphones? ›

    There are typically at least 5 microphones in the courtroom: at the plaintiff/prosecutor's table, at the defendant's table, at the bench (where the judge sits), at the witness stand, and on some kind of stand near the jury for when testimony is being given.


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