New Orleans is reporting that a Courthouse in St. Bernard parish is infested with a type of mold that throws off toxins. The Parish courthouse was flooded during Hurricane Katrina sitting in 3 feet of water for several day as a consequence the building has developed this wicked case of toxic mold.
In my sordid career I've been in many old and odd "courthouses," some that have made me feel a little queasy, some that were just bizarre, and as I've talked about, before--at least one where I had the shit kicked out of me. I've talked about the latter incident enough, let me talk about the design and ambience of courtrooms.
I know what you're thinking, c'mon Bad Lawyer...ambience isn't that restaurant jargon. Sure. I don't rate courtrooms based on the ferns, and savory smells, but if you don't think there is conscious thought given to courtroom decor, then you aren't watching courtroom dramas or more incredibly, you haven't been to court. First the courtroom is a set piece for the theater of Justice. The Judge is costumed, be-robed, and the lawyers as I've talked about in Style Diktats, should be appropriately attired. The prisoners, at least in Our State wear a garishly colored jumpsuit, and come in the courtroom in cuffs if not leg shakles. The roles played by the participants determine where they sit, where they stand, and at what altitude. Generally speaking the Judge is "elevated" on a bench--or as the cliche` has it, so-and-so-lawyer was "elevated to the bench." The jury sits in the "box." the witness takes the"stand," the lawyers and parties sit at "table." In most courtrooms the Judge is framed by the American flag and the state flag. Sometimes, the seal of the jurisdiction where the court is located is behind the judge or on the front of the Bench. Usually there is a podium for some sort. Commonly there is a rail in front of the jury box; and sometimes in front of the Bench; often the area behind the lawyer tables is separated from general seating.
Now, get this straight contrary to the impression given by television, there are usually few if any interested spectators. Persons present in courtrooms are typically there on their own business. Witnesses who are not parties sit outside the courtroom so as not to have theri testimony "tainted" by what they hear in the courtroom before they are called to the stand, this is called "separation of witnesses."
There are beautiful old courthouses, both State and Federal which thanks to the landmark movements have been preserved and are still be used. One of the old courthouses I visit regularly has genuine Tiffany windows, astonishing light fixtures and railings. Lawyers who have never been to a courthouse in their lives use this courthouse as a backdrop for professional photos and television commericials. Silly.
As a rule what happens in courthouses makes me sick, the courtroom itself should not in and of itself be an instrument of illness--too often, either through design, neglect and in the case of the St. Bernard Parish courthouse environmental causes, the courtroom itself will make you sick. Good luck with that!