The courtroom was brown and rich; wood veneer was polished and an Irish family-crested flag marked the heritage of a lonely judge. From the pews, visitors could see into the hallway while others congregated just outside. Smiling lawyers walk past slouching defendants with their elbows folded on knees. Busy mothers soothe crying babies while administrative staff walk marbled floors.
There was laughter near the windows. Four lawyers gathered confusing civility with friendship.
All of the lawyers wore suit coats. Most of their clients did not. Shoe polish and hair gel further distinguished civilians between officers of the court. It also identified rank amongst the officers.
The thermostat never changed those seven years inside the courtroom while outside it turned from rain to snow, to sun and then, snow once more. The windows of the courthouse provided a combination of aesthetics, security and privacy. It’s front doors offered silence and secrecy. I tried to explain the difference between the outside and the inside and how the outside was always better but I could not tell it; as I cannot tell it now. But if you have been there you know.
More people confusingly entered the courtroom as I offered my seat to a mother and her three young children. By now the prosecutor was shuffling papers behind carafes of water that nobody drank. A clerk appeared from behind the wall and whispered quietly to lawyers in suit coats. Something was happening.
“All rise” announced the clerk.
As the verdict was read I looked once more around the courtroom and saw lawyers towering over their clients, elbows on knee caps, and that flag just behind the judge.