Friday, November 8, 2013
Bringing a Few Things from Home
The first time I went to Richmond with the Judge for court, she was moving into her newly assigned chambers. As we walked in the door, I could tell she was none too happy. The chambers were large. Actually, the chambers were cavernous with huge dimly lit rooms and twenty foot ceilings. The dark aqua carpet was stained and wrinkled. The faded white paint on the walls had the ghostly silhouettes of the former judges art collection that had been removed.
To make the situation worse, the Judge learned later that week that it would be months before any refurbishing or redecoration would be done to the chambers due to the general red tape it took to get anything accomplished with the federal government. The court decorator was happy to show her what extra furniture was available for her to use. And, the Judge went through and picked out the few pieces she thought would suit.
One thing the Judge did want was a large conference table. The decorator commented, in jest, that the only ones available were these two huge incredibly heavy oak tables currently located in the front lobby of the courthouse. Given that the lobby was on the first floor, our chambers were on the second, the tables weighed a ton (well were heavy as lead), and were large enough to seat at least twelve people, those conference tables were out of the question.
Well, the decorator thought they were out of the question, until she came in the next morning and saw there was only one table in the lobby. Sure enough the missing table was nicely situated in the Judge's office in our chambers. Only then did the decorator realize one didn't tell the Judge something couldn't be done. Not that moving the table was an easy feat, let's just say the project was a bonding exercise for our law clerks.
The following month, the Judge drove her Suburban up to Richmond. She had a few things she wanted to bring to the chambers. Unloading her car was something akin to clowns getting out of their little car at the circus. Granted a Suburban is a large vehicle, but the Judge had managed to pack, in addition to her vast amount of luggage (a whole 'nuther story), an 8 foot tall three panel silk Chinese screen, a 9 foot tall full size silk tree in its pot, several boxes of curios, coffee table books, 4 lamps with their shades, an area rug, and a clock for her desk.
When one of the Court Security Officers saw all of us struggling to to get her furnishings up to her chambers, he took pity on us and held the doors and the elevator. Soon, the US Marshal on duty came out and grabbed the silk tree and took it up the stairs (it would not fit into the elevator). Since she was the only judge in the courthouse at the time, he needed to be with her any way, however, he was going above beyond his duty to assist in that project.
When we got everything in the chambers, the Judge was chatting with the Marshal. It was evident she knew him. I was glad to know that, given we had just used him as a sherpa to move a tree. She introduced him to me, "This is Marshal Marshall." I thought for a moment she was stuttering. Then the Judge laughed, "You realize who this is?", she asked me. She continued,"This Justice Thurgood Marshall's son." Great, not only did we enslave a US Marshal, we chose the son of a former Supreme Court Justice.