April 9, 2005

A moot court day.

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.


Steel Turman said...

Ann, I realize you have exquisite taste and all but ... isn't that an endangered spieces or something?
Geez, free range, hand fed, organic, dried with ecologically approved wood, handled with Zen hands chicken? C'mon.

Justin said...

Professor Althouse:
Just so you know, a lot of law students at your own school put in a lot of time and effort to make judges and competitors at this year's Evans Moot Court Competition as comfortable as possible. You might want to watch your criticism of these students as they tried to put together as impressive of a spread as they could, and tried to make the otherwise drab Dane Coutny Courthouse as warm and welcoming as they could.

Ann Althouse said...

Justin: Thanks. It's not the students' fault. It's a shabby courthouse. I added a note on the front page that a new courthouse is under construction, something I'd forgotten about. The building as it is is a real embarrassment to Madison.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

That blog you sent us to reminds me somehow of Andy Kaufman, a comedian I always loathed. All that fake naivete and cutesey stupidity. Also it came with a popup ad "Welcome to Wales."

Ann Althouse said...

It reminds me of Andy Kaufman too. I'm not getting pop ups, but maybe if I did, it would affect my mood. But that blog just makes me smile, especially, for some reason, the idea of "King Winkles." I do, however, deplore the graffiti.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

I like the graffiti in the photo, but if I had to walk past it I'd probably deplore it after the first time.

BTW, what's this with photographing your cups of coffee? Is it a recurring motif or something?

Ann Althouse said...

Somehow I just keep finding myself at a table with a cup of coffee and a camera. Maybe I need to get out and about more in search of subject matter, but I do still believe their is always something new to see even in the most familiar environment (as Wally says to André about the cigar store as opposed to Mount Everest at the end of "My Dinner With André").

Iris said...

Shabby? Wow. I worked there for two years. It's not THAT bad.

At least you have electricity.

Ann Althouse said...

That jury room had furniture that the Salvation Army would refuse, worse than stuff left out by the curb all the time. The courtroom had sagging ceiling tiles and creepy white stains on the judge's chair. True, it could be worse, but I stand by "shabby."

Finn Kristiansen said...

First, I actually appreciate the pictures of the coffee and the sandwiches. It is almost like I am there, sitting in some quaint cafe, instead of on my own block surrounded by meth addicts and "working gals" (who look strangely attractive from really, really far away).

While it is nice that you added back comments, I think the style of your blog was such that it worked well as is. You create such a mood with your mix of photos and topics, almost like one of those old Celestial Seasonings tea commericals, where you sit around after a sip (or a read), with a blissful look on the face.

And, you make Wisonsin seem like the most comfy place on earth. "Fountain Prairie Farm Dried Cured Beef" indeed. Mmmmm.

jimboaz said...

Prof. Althouse,
I stumbled across your site by sheer accident, and realized that I argued in front of you at the Evans Competition. I had a wonderful experience both in the competition and spending time in Madison (despite the quality of the courthouse). You were a fun, but tough, judge.

The Good Farmer said...

But, tell me, did you like the Fountain Prairie Dry Cured Highland beef sandwich?

Ann Althouse said...

The sandwich was great!