Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Art of Justice

On Wednesday, I took part in a tour of the Santa Ana appellate court's new courthouse, which opened in July. One of the most striking aspects of the new building is the artwork in the Lobby.

Justice Moore, our tour leader, was in charge of decorating the courthouse -- which she had to do with no budget, given California's money crunch. At first, a prominent local family was going to donate art. The problem with that plan, Justice Moore explained, was that people who donate art are usually rich; and rich people tend to appear in court a lot. She wanted to avoid any appearance of favoritism from plaques throughout the courthouse thanking the party to a lawsuit for its donation.

Her solution was to ask local middle school and high school students to create paintings based (primarily) on cases the court had decided, including some for which Justice Moore wrote the opinion. The results were stunning. The students found symbolism in the opinions, both their fact patterns and the principles for which they stood, that the justices themselves had never seen. The L.A. Times story at the link above shows some examples.

No comments: