Gleaming polished wood (paneled walls, the bench, witness stand, chairs, tables, doors, lectern), small desk for the court reporter next to the Judge's bench (enclosed) & Court clerk, the bar (wooden railing or barrier separating the proceedings from the gallery (benches or theatre seats for the public), jury box off to the side, jury members headed by the foreperson, black-robed judge, bailiff standing at attention at one wall or near front to keep order, microphones, reporters, camera crews (in high profile cases unless closed proceedings), gavel, some courtrooms have bulletproof glass protecting the gallery or encasing the witness box, federal and state flags, clock, tagged bags of evidence, posters/slide shows/reenactments, crime scene photos, closed circuit television, desks for the plaintiff & Defendant, handcuffs, door leading to judge's chamber, wide central corridor in the gallery seating area for the witnesses to be brought down, windows are highly secure or there are no windows, files, paperwork, computers, monitors/projector/screen/ELMO/easel for presenting evidence, remotes, audio equipment, lawyers, witnesses for the defense or prosecution, family, friends, and the public seated in the gallery (wringing hands, clutching hands tight in front of themselves, holding tight to purses like a shield, taking notes, wiping at tears, covering mouth, nervously fingering jewelry at wrist and neck, arms crossed, stoic & tense postures, listening intently)
Fans, whooshing air conditioning, gurgling pipes in the walls, traffic outside, sirens outside, shifting in seats, wooden chairs creaking, the rustle of papers, testimony being given, footsteps across the polished floor as the prosecutor/defence attorney addresses the court or questions the witness, throat clearing, coughing, sniffing, quiet sobbing, the clink of chains if the defendant is secured by handcuffs or ankle cuffs, feedback from the microphones, a creaky gate in the bar, the rustle of fabric, audio evidence (taped phone calls, sound for a security video, etc), whispering, the Judge's pounding gavel, lawyers speaking to the court, gentle tapping from the court reporter's box, reactive gasps at evidence or testimony, doors opening and closing
Light scent of treated wood (lacquer, polishes, varnish, etc), pine or lemon cleaner, air conditioned air, sweat, perfume, hair products & cologne all mingling in the air, stale or coffee breath from the people you sit near, paper, warm electronics (acrid plastic, metallic tang from projectors, etc)
Water, tears, gum/mints/cough drops, dry mouth
Hard wooden seat, arms brushing against spectators next to you, gripping onto a crumpled Kleenex in one tight fist, fiddling with a key fob, zipper tab, watch, piece of jewelry, hands clenched tight, fingernails biting into pads of palms, rubbing at face, pinching the bridge of the nose, wiping at tears and nose, biting down on a lip, shaking hands, tense, rigid posture causing tight muscles and neck, walking down the aisle toward the witness stand, heat prickling against skin at feeling all eyes upon you, raising right hand to swear in, sorting through papers, files, etc. the cool touch of a plastic evidence bag, standing up and sitting down, clicking a remote to change an evidence slide or start a video feed, rolling a pen with fingers, jotting down a quick note on a legal pad, passing a note to a client or coworker, leaning over to whisper in another's ear, reaching out to cover the microphone to prevent being overheard, cold glass against palm as you take a sip of water, sweat dripping down back and sides in a stifling hot, airless courtroom, crossing/uncrossing legs, shifting in seat, crossing feet, putting hands in pocket to hold a cherished item to draw strength from, squeezing a loved one's hands as the verdict is read, head hanging in defeat, heaviness in shoulders for the convicted, a lightness in chest, breath and shoulders if exonerated.
--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
The court clerk called my name and I stood, swaying a little as the humid air caused a moment oflightheadednesss. One deep breath and I steadied enough to head to the witness stand, my heels making loud tocks against the gleaming floor. Lord above, why hadn't I chosen more sensible shoes? Were the jurors wincing as I was, praying I'd hurry up and cross this ocean of tile? Poor Tom must be cursing the moment he asked me to come in and testify as his character witness.
The prisoner sauntered in, his orange jumper and the chains at his ankles doing nothing to dampen the bright smile on his face. The room froze and every eye was upon him: this monster, this horror of a man. In the gallery, women covered their lips with their hands and the men shook their heads. You could practically see the same thought run through each person's mind: how could he, or anyone, poison the drinking supply of a school?
--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile)
After three witnesses in a row were found in contempt of court, Judge Gilmore pounded his gavel against the sound block as erratically as a contestant on Canada's Worst Handyman.
Example 2: (Metaphor)
Damning evidence aside, the accused's shoulders bowed under an anvil of guilt, and he refused to make eye contact with anyone. The jury had probably already convicted him on his body language alone.