I agreed to serve as one of the judges in the 2005 Evans Moot Court Competition, so I drove downtown. Here's some graffiti I happened to see:
It seems like the graffiti version of this blog.
I stopped at L'Etoile Café for some coffee and a sandwich and to read the bench memo in preparation:
Here's the coffee and the memo:
Here's the sandwich:
That's "Fountain Prairie Farm Dried Cured Beef," I'll have you know. I know that will help you think about what kind of life I live here in Madison.
I needed to walk across the state Capitol Square to get to the Dane County Courthouse, and I stopped to take a picture of myself and the Capitol in a mirrored window:
The square looked pretty:
The flag was at half-staff -- not for Saul Bellow, for the Pope:
The judges congregated in a shabby jury room. I don't need these refreshments:
I looked around the jury room and thought about all the boring hours good citizens doing their duty have had to spend here. There was some reading material for them: big piles of depressingly old magazines.
There were also two books in the room: a collection of Erma Bombeck's humor columns and "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man."
There were a lot of very old jigsaw puzzles, including this one, half put together:
I speculate about whether the lawyers would like to know how prospective jurors put together their jigsaw puzzles and decide that the prosecution should want the kind of people who look for the edge pieces and get the frame completed first. Another "judge" asks what other way is there, and other ways are discussed: concentrating on color areas, finding a particular object in the picture, looking at the shapes of the pieces. But the shapes are nearly identical! My grandson looks for the shapes, someone says. Use a peremptory challenge on that one, I think.
The picture on the puzzle is a Norman Rockwell cover for The Saturday Evening Post from 1961:
That issue had an article on what Oklahoma wants from TV. I wonder what it said. I wonder if Oklahoma ever got what it wanted. Perhaps they wanted "The Dick Van Dyke Show," which debuted in 1961.
We went over to courtroom 2F, which was awfully shabby. [ADDED: A new Dane County Courthouse is under construction.]
Among the framed portraits on the wall were two garishly blown-up photographs of female judges:
I think about all the people who must have been depressed and scared and bored out of their skulls in this room. But soon enough, the arguments begin, and the room is ignored. The law students from various schools -- they aren't allowed to say which school -- launch into their arguments and we pepper them with questions and let them show their stuff. They're all great students who've prepared very hard and advanced in the competition.
They've had to learn a lot about the Establishment Clause and the Free Speech Clause of the Constitution, and we debate a lot about a school district's policy barring teachers from teaching "intelligent design" (or anything like it) when they teach evolution.
Tomorrow, the finalists will get to make their arguments in the beautiful room in the Capitol Building that houses the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Until then, I hope all the wonderful law students enjoy their visit to Madison. It's a lovely day, and it's always fun to be here on a Saturday night.