D.C.'s Moultrie Courthouse Deserves Respect

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The review of the newly renovated District Court of Appeals courthouse ["Winning on Appeal," Style, June 17] accurately described the grace and beauty of the renovation to that stunning building but unnecessarily sniped at the Moultrie Courthouse across the street and denigrated jury service.

The Moultrie Courthouse is home to the Superior Court and serves 10,000 visitors per day who seek justice there. The building cannot fairly be characterized as "grim." That it is crowded does not take away from its convenience and accessibility for the important public function it is designed to serve.

The family court facilities are a model of effective design. The carpeting, soft lighting, colorful sofas, and toys and books in the family waiting areas -- and the more than 400 paintings and drawings by art students enrolled in D.C. public schools -- transform what would otherwise be standard-issue court hallways into a truly family-friendly space.

To say that the Moultrie Courthouse is "dreaded by all District residents as the site of biennial jury duty" dishonors and discourages this vital public service. As a jurist, I have heard hundreds of jurors express appreciation of the importance of their service and for their favorable experience; many even sent letters to me or to the presiding judge to thank them. As a juror, I experienced firsthand the seriousness of purpose that 12 of us from all parts of the community brought to our work as "citizen governors."

-- Rufus G. King III


The writer was chief judge of the D.C. Superior Court from 2000 to 2008.

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