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Participating in Court

There are many ways you can participate in our court's proceedings. Whether you are a litigant, witness, family member and/or a member of the public wishing to observe the judicial branch in action, you are welcome here.

The information in this section will help prepare you for your time in our courthouse.

Visiting the Alabama Middle District

A person who wishes to observe a court in session may check the court calendar online or at the courthouse and watch a proceeding. Our Constitution and court tradition give citizens right of access to court proceedings.

Teachers, businesses, civic groups and other organizations should contact the Clerk's Office to set up an engaging visit. For example, our staff can help teachers select an appropriate date for a class visit and can even find out what cases are on the docket if students wish to observe a court session. Please be prepared to allow several weeks of lead time when arranging a visit.

Parking

There is no free parking at any courthouse. Jurors will have received detailed instructions regarding parking. All other visitors must be prepared to pay for parking at private parking lots, or at city meters (loose change only) for street parking.

Arrival at the Courthouse

The Alabama Middle District has three courthouses. Only the Montgomery location houses the Office of the Clerk. The Opelika and Dothan courthouse facilities are only open when a proceeding is taking place. Check our calendar for more information.

Regardless of which courthouse you visit, please remember the following:

  • A photo identification is required and must be presented upon arrival.
  • Cell phones are not allowed in the building. Please leave them in your car. (See 41 CFR 102, 74.385 Sub Part C) 
  • You will need to check in, and when you leave, please remember to check out.
  • All visitors and their belongings will be scanned (x-ray and metal detectors) before entry into the Courthouse.
  • Weapons or other dangerous or illegal items are not allowed on the grounds or in the building.
  • Visitors are welcome to bring backpacks and other bags but must keep belongings with them at all times.

How to Dress

Please remember that appearance in court, even as a guest, is a professional event. Please dress accordingly. While a suit and tie or other professional attire is not necessary as a guest, please refrain from wearing outfits that may be deemed too "casual" for this circumstance.

Sunglasses, identification tags (other than military), display buttons and other types of  clothing items with slogans may not be worn while court is in session.

All clothing and attire must be "appropriate." As a general rule, you want to avoid clothing and jewelry that may draw too much attention. While no one wants to ask a citizen to leave the courthouse based on the clothing he or she is wearing, the judge may choose to do so if he or she perceives that the individual’s presence will be a distraction.

In Our Courtrooms

If you are here as a guest or family member and viewing the proceedings, then please be advised that our Courthouse Security Officers (CSOs) and our U.S. Marshals Service officers are stationed throughout the building and courtrooms. Should the need arise, they can be very helpful answering any questions you may have, including directing you to the proper courtroom.

When you are in a courtroom, proper decorum is expected. Refrain from conversation during proceedings. The Courtroom Deputy will make announcements as necessary. Please remember that our court is a very formal place; please act in an appropriate manner. To that regard, please refrain from bringing food or drink (including chewing gum, candy, water, etc.) into the courtrooms.

Please do not enter or leave a courtroom during a session; make sure court is in recess before you enter or leave the room, so as not to draw attention to yourself.

Courtroom Administration

In the Alabama Middle District, the courtroom activity is facilitated -- at the pleasure of the presiding judge -- by the Courtroom Deputy (CRD). Seated just in front of the presiding judge, the CRD will make any announcements as necessary, and generally manage all aspects of the courtrooms for their judge.

Each courtroom has specific areas to accommodate all the parties involved in the proceeding. In all cases, the judge’s bench is in the center, and the witness stand is adjacent to the judge’s bench. The CRD’s desk is in front of the judge’s bench, and the evidence lectern is in front of the CRD’s desk.

Depending on the layout of the individual courtroom, other sections either on the left or the right include a desk for a court reporter (in use when proceeding is not being recorded electronically), desks for the presiding judge’s law clerks, and the jury box. Tables for plaintiffs and defendants are on each side of the evidence lectern. The galley is the section where family, guests, media and other spectators may sit when court is in session.

Security Protocol

The District Court works closely with the United States Marshals Service (USMS) in the Alabama Middle District. Our Court Security Officers (CSOs) work in conjunction with the USMS to keep our staff, guests, and facility secure in all areas of the courthouse. It is not uncommon to see both deputy marshals and CSOs in the courtrooms and hallways. Please feel free to contact the deputy marshals or CSOs in the event that you need assistance, have an emergency, or notice something that causes you concern or alarm. You may speak with them personally, call their main office at (334) 223-7401, or contact the Office of the Clerk at (334) 954-3600 to pass a message along.

Media

The Alabama Middle District requests all members of the media to pay close attention to Local Rule 83.4 and our policies regarding their conduct in our facilities. Please direct all media inquiries to our Clerk of Court or our Chief Deputy Clerk. You may also call the Office of the Clerk at (334) 954-3600. Please be advised that the Court provides a media lounge on the second floor of the new courthouse.

Braggs, et al. v. Dunn, et al.

The Alabama Middle District has issued a temporary order modification regarding Civ. Misc. No. 3046. The trial of Edward Braggs, et al. v.Jefferson S. Dunn, et al., 2:14-cv-00601-MHT, will commence on December 5,2016,at the Frank M. Johnson Jr. Courthouse, in Courtroom 2FMJ.

For purposes of this trial, Room 201 on the 2nd floor of the Frank M.Johnson Jr. Courthouse is dedicated for the use of the media during these trial proceedings.

As an exception to Civil Misc. No. 3046, this Order authorizes the media to enter the courthouse through security and proceed directly to Room 201 with a cellular telephone, hand-held texting device, Pocket PC, IPAD, laptop computer, and similar electronic devices, including those with photographic, video or audio recording capabilities, and to use those devices in Room 201. This equipment may not be possessed or used anywhere else in the courthouse, and no recordings, video or photographs of the trial proceedings, either live or from the video feed or audio feed, shall be allowed to be made or broadcast.

Any violation of this Order is an unlawful interference with the proceedings of the court, and may be the basis for a citation for contempt of court and an order imposing monetary or other sanctions as provided by law. This Order shall expire upon the conclusion of Edward Braggs, et al. v. Jefferson S. Dunn, et al. proceedings requiring the use of Room 201.

All members of the press/media need to read this memorandum regarding their access/conduct during the proceedings of this action, and to bring an executed copy of the same with them to the Lee Street entrance of the Frank M. Johnson Jr. Courthouse when they check in.

Food and Lodging

For overnight stays, hotels are located in downtown Montgomery as well as other areas of the city. The Montgomery Chamber of Commerce provides information about nearby hotels and restaurants.

There are limited food and beverage options in the Montgomery courthouse. Vending machines and a small concessions area are found both on the ground floor (basement) of the modern courthouse and in the vending lobby on the first floor in the historic courthouse. Downtown Montgomery has many restaurants and eateries, including several within walking distance of the Courthouse. A Regions Bank ATM is also located in the Courthouse basement.

Smoking Policy

It is federal policy that the smoking of tobacco products is prohibited in all interior GSA-occupied space, and within 25 feet of doorways and building air intake ducts on other outdoor areas under the control of GSA.

In accordance with this policy, GSA has designated three areas where people may smoke on the outside of the buildings in our complex. The three areas are as follows:

  • In front of the modern courthouse to the right hand side as you walk out onto the plaza. There is a bench and an ashcan.
  • Under the awning behind the historic courthouse, eight (8) feet either side of a line equidistant between the two rear entrances to the building. There is an ashcan.
  • At the right hand side of the exit gate from the loading dock behind the modern courthouse. There is an ashcan.