Administrators Plan For Full Courtroom


By Shawn Neisteadt

It’s a case that people around the country are watching, and opening
statements are scheduled for Monday. If found Guilty, Daphne Wright
could become the first woman on South Dakota’s death row.

The Daphne Wright trial is sure to draw a large amount of attention,
which is why court administrators are planning for a full house of
onlookers. That means there are specific rules for everyone attending
the proceedings. Karl Thoennes, “We’ve actually taken measurements of
the pews and we calculate about 22 inches per person. So that’s the
figure we used to calculate the capacity of the pews, how many people
we could let in.”

Seven pews will be reserved for the public and the front row is
reserved for eight members of the media.

“That’s still going to be tight. A little snug, but we anticipate
filling the courtroom to capacity Monday morning.”

The 56 seats for the public will be available on a first come, first
serve basis. The courthouse will open at 6:30 in the morning and the
room will open ten minutes before the trial begins. If the room fills
up, those who don’t get a seat in the morning can wait around, hoping
someone leaves.

“If people do leave, they’ll have to go to the end of the line. We’ll
set up crowd control barriers like the airport does, or baggage check
in. So people can stay in line if they like and grab an available
seat as they come available.”

And while court administrators have carefully laid out the seating
arrangement, they’re also prepared to be flexible.

“We don’t have lists yet of exactly what family members might be
attending the trial. But we would try to give them priority.”

No matter how many people fill the courtroom, the start of the murder
trial is sure to get a lot of attention.

Those wishing to sit-in on the trial will be asked to enter the back
door to the courtroom. The side doors which are normally used will be
reserved for family members and the media.

(( Source: KELOLAND TV ))