Friday, June 12, 2009

Next steps.

This project is now being developed into a chapter for a treatise on legal visual semiotics. I am inclined to focus on the issue of security in the courthouses and how making that paramount has caused us to be distanced from this aspect of our community.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Handout for Florida State Symposium - Storytelling

Brenda Waugh and Paulette Moore
Florida State University, January 19, 2009

In creating our short film, Pillars of Justice, our goal is to explore how those who work in courthouses perceive the impact of architecture on justice. Paulette Moore is an award-winning director, producer and writer with twenty years of experience in documentaries, commercials and news. Brenda Waugh is an attorney with over twenty years of experience in civil and criminal litigation. Both of us are graduate students at the Center for Justice and Peace at Eastern Mennonite University. In bringing our diverse experience to the project, we not only explore the emerging themes, but also question the process that we employ in conducting our research. We are working to create a just process that promotes dialog between equal participants, “researcher” and “subject”, in the film.

We began the project in the fall of 2008 by scouting locations and visiting courthouses in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia and the northern Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. Since a new “state of the art” judicial center had recently been erected in Martinsburg, West Virginia, that locale provided participants with a broad historical perspective of courthouse design. As we followed suggestions of storytellers and pure chance, we discussed the issues with judges, prosecutors, clerks, defense attorneys, courthouse employees, security officers and litigants. We toured five courthouses and visited several courthouses which are no longer in use. Themes quickly emerged such as the impact of buildings which focus on security, shared bathrooms, and the creation of space and intimacy in the courtroom. In the course of our work, we employed the following research methods in order to explore justice both in themes and in the development of Pillars of Justice.
Analysis. We employed an organic, non-linear and inclusive review of the stories. As much as possible, we avoided imposition of categorization of the stories which runs the risk of reshaping the experience of the storytellers.

Equal relationship between storytellers. Our intention was to mindfully assess our questions, our methods, our own stories and our views during each step of the process to maintain equality with the storytellers, who were not technically creating the film. While this equality may be an impossible result, it is a worthwhile goal.
Vulnerability. In order to create a more equal relationship with the storytellers, we told our own stories. We recognize that we bring our own experiences to our examination. By revealing our own experiences, we shared in the vulnerability of the other storytellers.

Transformative Inquiry. We were committed to a process that would: (1) show respect for the storytellers, (2) be honest in our objectives to promote social action, (3) recognize the complexity of the inquiry (4) incorporate collaboration and accountability, and (5) provide for a transparency of goals and methods and motives. We therefore used a transformative inquiry in framing the dialogs.

Respect for storytellers. In an effort to show great respect for the storytellers, we have encouraged feedback as we assembled the final film and made changes in order to meet concerns of the storytellers
Incorporation of non-linear and non-verbal communication. In designing the project and in engaging in the dialogs, we attempted to employ verbal and non-verbal, as well as linear and non-linear, methods of elicitation and presentation.

Contemplative listening and knowledge of community. Within the dialogs, we employed an approach to increase the opportunity for comptemplation by the storyteller, listener and viewer of the film. We provide the space for the listener and viewer to examine the stories in their own contexts, with their own communities.
Reflective inquiry. Throughout the process, we paused for reflection. We engaged in discussions with the storytellers, ourselves and other researchers about the difficulty in maintaining a justice orientation in research. We also found that maintaining the written blog provided us with insight as to the challenge of maintaining our philosophical objectives in our research.

Atkinson, J. (2002). Trauma Trails: Recreating Songlines. Victoria: Spinfex.
Behar, R. (1996). The Vulnerable Observer. Boston, Mass: Beacon Press.
Mary Margaret Fonnow and Judith A. Cook. (1991). Beyond Methodology: Feminist Scholarship as Lived Research. Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana University Press.
Smith, L. T. (2007). Decolonizing Methodologies. New York: St. Martin.
Zehr, H. (1998). Us and Them: a Photographer Looks at Police Pictures. Contemporary Justice Review, Vol. 1 pp. 377-385.

Center for Justice and Peace, Eastern Mennonite University:
Pillars of Justice-Audit Trail and Blog:
Paulette Moore:
Brenda Waugh:

Handout for Florida State Symposium - Excerpts

Here is the document on excerpts from our film that Brenda will hand out after her talk and presentation of our film Pillars of Justice at the Florida State design symposium.

Brenda Waugh and Paulette Moore
Florida State University, January 19, 2009

“Many of the ugly pages of American history have been obscured and forgotten…America owes a debt of justice which it has only begun to pay. If it loses the will to finish or slackens in its determination, history will recall its crimes and the country that would be great will lack the most indispensable element of greatness-justice.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr., “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” 1967.

In creating our short film, Pillars of Justice, our goal is to explore how those who work in and visit the courthouses perceive the impact of architecture on justice. Paulette Moore, an award-winning director, producer and writer collaborates with Brenda Waugh, a practicing attorney, and many courthouse visitors, employees, and litigants to discuss the physical and relational space created in the courthouse. Excerpts from the film describe some of their experiences.

“It’s not just necessarily just the shape of the rooms. Architecture is more than that. Architecture is the forms we use, the language we use, our own notions and expectations and concepts. All of that is fairly architecture….A lot of the architecture is in your mind, it’s the process, the formality of it, the expectation, the knowledge of the history of the law, and the process that people bring with them.”
-Hon. David H. Sanders, Circuit Judge, 23rd Judicial Circuit, West Virginia

“When I walked into that space I was pulling all of the visual cues that I’m not represented. So when this relational thing happened with the judge and the cop where I felt supported, it was almost like an equal and opposite reaction…I had a marked sense of relief…I think at that point I felt a little bit more a part of the community.”
-Paulette Moore, filmmaker, litigant, and student

“To me, the most important thing in this courtroom is that the state’s attorney and the defense attorney are equal distance from the judge. The police officer, who will be prosecuting the case, and the defendant are equal distance to the judge. As far as access to the judge, this court feels more equal.”
-Brenda Waugh, attorney and student

“For years, just as a philosophy -- I wanted it (the courtroom) to be open house. I regret the whole modern security trend that keeps people at arm’s length.”
-Hon. David H. Sanders

“Some of them tell me they feel like criminals before they get in the door…you go through a search and dump your pockets…people used to come in when they wanted a birth certificate. Now they call or else write you a letter.”
-John Small, County Clerk, Berkeley County, West Virginia

“Most people are intimidated by it and they don’t like that kind of oppressive atmosphere, so they disappear and don’t come back. In order for it to seem legitimate, it has to be open…we’re not that far in some cases from the old star chamber where judicial authorities used to drag people in private and question them and rule on them and send them off for execution without anybody knowing what was going on. So if (we) close off the court rooms, so it is just a group of insiders participating, you run the risk of that happening again.”
-Deborah Lawson, Chief Public Defender, 23rd Judicial Circuit, West Virginia

“It (the courthouse) should be a place where the people feel welcome... People have a right to be included in their government and they are being systematically excluded.”
-Chris Quasebarth, Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Berkeley County

“I’m sure they (people) don’t (feel welcome). A little public oversight couldn’t hurt. It could only improve it.”
-Kimberly Crockett, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Berkeley County

UNUSUAL SPACES-THE PAST: A women’s witness room in the Old Berkeley County Courthouse
“I’ve had many an opportunity to retreat into this room…it’s a place where you can escape….for whatever reason-there is something about it…The powers that be recognized this as the women’s place only.”
-Maria Childers, Fiduciary Supervisor, Berkeley County

“I hugged her in here. I couldn’t do that out there. It would have seemed unprofessional.”
-Brenda Waugh

“Sometimes it (justice) can be (a hug in the women’s witness room.) Sometimes it’s a hug in the hallway afterwards.”
-Deborah Lawson

USUSUAL SPACES-AN IDEA: Two views of a courtyard
“I would like something in the front where people could hang out, like a courtyard or a commons area, where people could come in and out.”

-Matthew Harvey, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Berkeley County
“(It would) attract vagrants and people would vandalize it. Kids would be spray painting and skateboarding. I think it would be a problem. I really do.”
-Timothy Hellman, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Berkeley County

Pillars of Justice is a short documentary film by two graduate students, Brenda Waugh and Paulette Moore, attending the Center for Justice and Peace at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg Virginia. For further information visit:,,, and

Brenda Presents at Florida State University Interior Design Symposium

On Monday, January 19, Brenda presents our film "Pillars of Justice" to Florida State University's Architecture and Design for Social Justice Symposium. How cool is that?

The ART&DESIGN for Social Justice Symposium focuses on how the tools and inherent abilities within the areas of art and design can be utilized in addressing issues confronting less advantaged groups within our local communities, states, regions or world. The event is designed to generate synergy, spawn collaborative projects among participants, create new scholarly initiatives, and allow examination of the role that art and design plays in the telling of a broader social narrative.

2009 Art and Design for Social Justice Symposium
Florida State University
Location: HCB, “The New Classroom Building”

8:00-8:30 Late Registration, Coffee and Pastries

8:30-8:45 Welcome, Eric Wiedegreen, Dean Sally McRorie, Dave Gussak,
Room 103

8:45-9:30 Eve Blossom, Keynote Speaker, Room 103

9:45-10:15 Presentation, Room 205
“Close to Home: Studying Art and Your Community”
Pat Villeneuve & Donald Sheppard, Florida State University

Presentation, Room 210
“Separating Desire from Desperation: Parallel Existences in Sao Paulo,
Hannah Mendoza & Matthew Dudzik, Savannah College of Art and Design

Film, Room 213
“Pillars of Justice: An examination of courthouses and their role the
search for justice.”
Brenda Waugh & Paulette Moore, Center for Justice and Peace at Eastern
Mennonite University

10:25-10:55 Presentation, Room 205
“Art Therapy as Part of a Multidisciplinary Team: Developing an Arts in
Corrections Program”
Caroline Cook, Florida State University

Presentation, Room 210
“From Sheltered Students to Sheltering Others”
Patrick Lee Lucas & Suzanne Cabrera, The University of North Carolina-

11:05-11:35 Presentation, Room 205
“Art and Place Relationship: Evaluating Sense of Place in a Community
Based Public Art Installation”
Marlo Ransdell, Florida State University

Presentation, Room 210
“i+TiBET: A Community Effort to Preserve Tibetan Culture-in-Exile”
Angela Tank & Carrie Ann Christensen, University of Minnesota-Twin

11:45-12:15 Presentation, Room 205
“The Darkest Hour is Just Before Dawn: Research and Optimism in
Community-Based Art”
Owen Mundy & Joelle Dietrick, Florida State University

Presentation, Room 210
“Incorporating Civic and Social Responsibility into Design Curriculum”
Jillissa Moorman, University of Northern Iowa

12:15- 1:30 Lunch (with Music by Charles Atkins)

1:40- 2:10 Presentation, Room 205
“Integrating Social Justice in the Thesis”
Alison Keohane, Jessica Menrath, Cheryl Watson, Hannah Mendoza,
Savannah College of Art and Design

Presentation, Room 210
“Research to Application: How an Innovative Arts in Corrections Program
Was Developed”
Dave Gussak, Florida State University

2:20-2:50 Presentation, Room 205
“The Cradle of Hope: One Year Later”
Jill Pable, Rachelle McClure, Sean Coyne, Florida State University

Presentation, Room 210
“A Place of Their Own: Shaping Behavior Through Design in an Arts-
Based Community Center”
Tracie Kelly, Florida State University

3:00- 3:45 Endnote Speaker, Joan Frosch

3:45- 4:00 Closing Remarks

UNHCR Colleague's Reprise to Architecture and Justice Film

...Cristina Villarino with a wonderful anecdote about the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pillars of Justice - The Final!!

I doubt this will be our final post, but here is our final project for our Qualitative Analysis class.

Pillars of Justice from Paulette Moore on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Public Property

When I reflect on the dialogs today, other thoughts and themes, which are really variations on some that others have discussed, unfold. One thing that strikes me is that the buildings in Berkeley and Jefferson County that have been built as courthouses since the 1800’s have been converted buildings. In order to make room for Magistrates when the Supreme Court said that they could no longer work out of their houses, they converted the John Street School. John Small attended there and he was one of the people who designed the modifications. Later a bowling alley and a bank became courtrooms, near the “old courthouse.” Most recently, in Jefferson County, the old jail was converted. The new judicial center started out as a woolen mill/factory and was then an outlet mall? Does the former use say anything about the location? The structure? The memories? The way the buildings function?
Another thing that strikes me is the growing lack of public access to the courts. That was not a theme I went in aware of, but it emerged so clearly and is perhaps the crisis in judicial architecture. How can we create spaces where the public feels both welcome and safe to use to address their conflicts? After a recent crisis in Yolo County, California where the public was locked out of an open proceeding, one legislator proposed rules to provide public access to courts. Her legislation provides, in part: “Each court security plan must address how the presiding judge and sheriff will ensure that security services are provided in a manner that protects the Sixth Amendment right of criminal defendants to a public trial and the right of public access to court proceedings under the First Amendment and Section 124 of the Code of Civil Procedure…(the plan must) describe policies and procedures for ensuring that security services are provided in a manner that protects the Sixth Amendment right of criminal defendants to a public trial and the right of public access to court proceedings under the First Amendment and Section 124 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Describe the training to be provided to ensure that courtrooms remain open to the public unless a lawful court order authorizes closure. Describe outreach efforts to local media and any Bench-Bar-Media Committee to facilitate discussion of concerns about fair trials, the free press, and other key issues affecting the courts, the media, and the public."

This story and the access issue that our community members who care about justice have raised sent me searching through some old legal opinions. There is a quote from U.S. Supreme Court decision that may perfectly describe the issue of the public nature of the courthouse. “What transpires in the court room is public property." Craig v. Harney, 331 U.S. 367, 374 (1947).
This rather overriding issue about access to courts and the important part that the courthouse plays in community, does not overshadow the others. It may be the most concrete. (Pardon the pun.) But probably one of the most important messages I’m hearing is that the issues are not the courtrooms, it’s the courthouse. That shouldn’t be a surprise. As a lawyer, I know that most cases settle and never see the inside of a courtroom. However, the place, the experience of knowing that this building is “public property” is important. The courthouse doesn’t just house an isolated chamber someplace where bad things happen. It is a place where the community meets to resolve their conflicts. It is a place where relationships are created and mended. In short, the relationship between justice and architecture is this: the architecture must be mindful of creating a space where the citizens and judiciary of the community are respected, where they may be challenged to be a member of that community, and where they have room to talk openly and freely, with full participation of one another.