Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Bench and Bar: Up close and personal

From Michael J. Madison at

Earlier this summer, I had the good fortune to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the Federal Circuit’s newest courtroom. Two features leaped out at me immediately.

One was the proximity of the advocate’s podium to the bench. Though the courtroom as a whole is generously proportioned, “intimate” doesn’t come close to describing the relationship between lawyer and judge. I was told that the dimensioning was intentional — the bench wants to get up close and personal with the bar.

Two was the fact that there is an A/V station in the balcony, looking out over the courtroom. I was told that this is for the use of a law clerk, who will sit in on oral argument and monitor the faithfulness of each advocate’s use of the record. If citations to the record don’t match the record that the clerk has on screen, the clerk will be able to IM the bench. The judge can choose to call the lawyer on the discrepancy. In real time.

No comments: