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Judiciary Square in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Sitting in Judgment

Civil War to Civil Rights

 

— Downtown Heritage Trail —

 
Sitting in Judgement Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, April 23, 2012
1. Sitting in Judgement Marker
Inscription.  This imposing, Greek Revival style structure was designed by George Hadfield as Washington's first City Hall/Courthouse. Throughout its history, the building has housed the local and federal courts for DC, presided over by judges appointed by the U.S. president with the consent of the U.S. Senate.

In 1874 Congress took over city operations, ending home rule. DC lost the right to elect a mayor and city council. The courts and municipal offices remained in the mayor-less City Hall. For nearly a century, until limited home rule was restored, three commissioners appointed by the U.S. president ran the city.

As part of steps to return home rule to the city in 1970, Congress reorganized DC's judicial system. It removed local cases from federal jurisdiction and created the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to hear everything from traffic violations to criminal matters. The Superior Court's Family Division moved into the Old City Hall/Courthouse. An expanded DC Court of Appeals became the District's court of last resort.

In 1999 the worn-out courthouse closed to await rehabilitation. Ten years later, after extensive
Darlington Memorial Fountain - 5th and D Streets, west side of the DC Court of Appeals image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, August 19, 2012
2. Darlington Memorial Fountain - 5th and D Streets, west side of the DC Court of Appeals
Inscription: "This monument has been erected by his friends with the sanction of Congress in memory of Joseph James Darlington (1849 - 1920): Counselor, Teacher, Lover of Mankind."
Frank G. Pierson, architect, 1923.
renovation, the building re-opened as the DC Court of Appeals.

Some of the most noteworthy trials in our city's history have taken place here. In 1867 John Surratt faced trial for conspiring with John Wilkes Booth to kill President Lincoln. Surratt was acquitted after testifying that, when the assassination occurred, he was in New York on a Confederate spying mission.

Charles Guiteau fared worse. In 1882, despite evidence of insanity, Guiteau was convicted of mortally wounding President James Garfield. He received the death penalty.
 
Erected 2012 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number e.4.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansGovernment & PoliticsNotable BuildingsNotable Events. In addition, it is included in the Downtown Heritage Trail, the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Former U.S. Presidents: #20 James A. Garfield series lists.
 
Location. 38° 53.7′ N, 77° 1.06′ W. Marker is in Judiciary Square in Washington, District of Columbia. Marker is on Indiana Avenue Northwest east of 5th Street Northwest, on the right when traveling west. Located on the south side of the DC Court of Appeals Building - on Indiana
Back of Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, April 23, 2012
3. Back of Marker
Avenue Northwest, midway between 4th and 5th Streets Northwest. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 430 E Street Northwest, Washington DC 20001, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Old City Hall (here, next to this marker); A Courthouse Reborn (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Building Out the Square (about 400 feet away); Senator Daniel Webster (about 400 feet away); Discover DC / Judiciary Square (about 400 feet away); Daniel Webster (about 500 feet away); DC Recorder of Deeds Building/WPA Era Murals (about 500 feet away); Washington City Spring (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Judiciary Square.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
 
Also see . . .
1. Lott Flannery, sculptor. (Submitted on August 11, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. Tribute to Lincoln by Benjamin B. French,. Washington Evening Star - April 15, 1868 (Submitted on August 11, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.) 

3. District of Columbia City Hall ["Old City Hall"]. (Submitted on August 11, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
 
Additional keywords. Jurisprudence; Lott Flannery, sculptor
 
Lincoln Statue on Pedestal image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, April 23, 2012
4. Lincoln Statue on Pedestal
Lott Flannery's Lincoln statue, originally atop a 35-foot pedestal, was paid for by DC residents and dedicated in 1868 as the nation's first public Lincoln memorial.
Frederick Douglass image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, April 23, 2012
5. Frederick Douglass
Abolitionist and U.S. Marshall Frederick Douglass receives visitors in his City Hall office. He also served here as the appointed DC recorder of deeds.
Guiteau mortally wounds President Garfield image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, April 23, 2012
6. Guiteau mortally wounds President Garfield
The scene at the Baltimore and Potomac train station on the Mall where Charles Guiteau mortally wounded President James Garfield, 1881.
Old City Hall image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, April 23, 2012
7. Old City Hall
In the foreground of this post-Civil War photo of Old City Hall is a platform for the boarding a horse-drawn carriage. The street was still unpaved.
Photo on Back image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, April 23, 2012
8. Photo on Back
These buildings once stood on Indiana Ave., at the corner of John Marshall Pl., where today's Moultrie Courthouse stands.
Trail Map image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, April 23, 2012
9. Trail Map
DC Court of Appeals image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, April 23, 2012
10. DC Court of Appeals
The Sitting in Judgement Marker - on the sidewalk below the staircase and the image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, August 4, 2012
11. The Sitting in Judgement Marker - on the sidewalk below the staircase and the
Lincoln statue - at the south side/Irving Street entrance to the DC Court of Appeals Building, aka the "Old City Hall/Courthouse."
Close-up of sculptor Lott Flannery's <i>Lincoln</i> - the "first Lincoln Memorial" (1868) image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, August 4, 2012
12. Close-up of sculptor Lott Flannery's Lincoln - the "first Lincoln Memorial" (1868)
Inscription on the reverse side of the statue's base - from 1923 when it was image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, August 4, 2012
13. Inscription on the reverse side of the statue's base - from 1923 when it was
re-erected here without its original (1868) 35 ft. tall pedestal.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on May 18, 2020. It was originally submitted on May 6, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 827 times since then and 20 times this year. Last updated on August 12, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos:   1. submitted on May 6, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   2. submitted on August 21, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on May 6, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   11, 12, 13. submitted on August 11, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.
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Oct. 1, 2020