Denver Bar Association
April 2005
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Supreme Court: Library to Gift Shop

by Greg Rawlings

Editor's note: Because of the recent closing of the Supreme Court Library downtown, and the opening of the Supreme Court Gift Shop (much like that in the basement of the U.S. Supreme Court building), we asked staffer Greg Rawlings to stop by the grand opening and give us his take on the new facilities.

The suspense was palpable in the chambers of the Colorado Supreme Court this week as
Entrance to the Supreme Court and
newly opened gift shop at 2 E. 14th Ave.
rumored cost-cutting/revenue-enhancing measures had everyone on edge. But after the members of the Court graciously led a troupe of intrepid legal reporters downstairs to the basement,
suspense metamorphosed into pure shock. To the surprise of all, the staid old law library had been turned into a glitzy gift shop and Starbucks coffee shop!

As nervous justices handed out steaming ceremonial mugs of vente decaf cappucinos to the assembled horde, the Court spokesman remarked to Channel 9 News: "Everyone has computers, nobody reads these silly confounded law reviews, and studies showed that what the people of Colorado want most in life are Starbucks coffee drinks and tacky souvenirs. Voila! The Colorado Supreme Court leaps into the 21st century to the aroma of finely roasted Arabica beans and the sounds of legal Latin in a hip-hop mix. Once again, Colorado finds itself at the forefront of American legal culture."

A well-known ALJ, who had wandered over from The Chancery, his worldly nose attuned to an Ethiopian-blend coffee of the day, nudged me in the ribs and whispered, "Good Lord, Rawlings, no mortal man can resist a combination gift store/coffee house."
I nodded silently and took in the increasingly turbulent scene.

The Supreme Court Gift Shop offers apparel, shotglasses, bumper stickers, and more.

One of America’s leading evidence-mavens perused the instructions on the back of a Fruit of the Poisonous Tree board game. A noted Republican lawmaker, who had mistaken the Supreme Court building for a Masonic Lodge, bought a dozen "I [heart] Rebecca Love Kourlis" bumper stickers. As for me, who could pass up a poster that read "Legal Scholar: Oxymoron or Pipe Dream?"

Design-maven Joseph Beuys arrived in his chartreuse limo for the unveiling of the Sexy Supremes wall-sized display of calendars and personalized coffee grinders. "Autographed copies of controversial opinions will be available, but only over the counter," he informed me, swinging his rabbit fur cape about him as he traipsed through the insanely colorful T-shirt display. My favorite: a crazily tie-dyed Michael Bender short sleeve tee. Jerry Garcia, eat your heart out, you hairy dead guy you.

No trip to the new digs would be complete without a visit to the Colorado Court of Appeals trivia corner. Did you know that the shortest appellate judge in American history, Ad Reinhardt, served on the Court from 1907 to 1929? "A long tenure for a short man," Denver Mayor Speer stated in his legendary eulogy of the brilliant Harvard-educated judge. His epitaph read: "All Brain." How true; how very true.

In the Future Justices exhibit, young wannabe barristers can purchase "If you can’t join ’em, lick ’em," lollipops for a mere dollar, as well as peanut M&Ms featuring the tiny heads of former Chief Justices.

Lastly, the reigning Chief Justice, will conduct daily reading from legal classics. Week one, The Common Law, by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.; week two, Those Were the Days: Duke Law During the Depression, by Richard Milhaus Nixon.

The legal community is invited to 2 E. 14th Ave. to shop, socialize, and spend lots of money at the new store, all to benefit the judicial system. Parking is free, and if you haven’t been there, just follow the tiny steps to the top; then take the elevator to the basement where the library used to be.


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