Utah's federal judiciary showed off elegant new court facilities Thursday, marking the occasion by unveiling a mammoth print of the signing of the Constitution.
Elder James E. Faust of the Council of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke at the dedication, emphasizing the need for virtue in government.For the past several years, ever since the U.S. Postal Service moved from what was the Post Office-Courthouse at Fourth South and Main, the first floor has been vacant. Recently, the General Services Administration refurbished much of that floor into new judicial chambers and courtrooms.
The print, which is a copy of a painting that shows the signing of the Constitution, is high on the wall of the lobby area. It was a gift to the Utah federal courts from the Constitutional Bicentennial Commission.
The original by Howard Chandler Christy hangs in the Capitol in Washington.
Elder Faust, a former president of the Utah State Bar, said he made his first appearance in the federal court 39 years ago. As a young lawyer, he represented a man accused of driving a stolen motorcycle across state lines.
U.S. District Judge Tillman D. Johnson - who was in his 90s - presided in the case. Johnson was a brilliant man, but his eyesight was dim. As he and his client stood before Johnson, the judge said - here Elder Faust imitated his high-pitched voice - "Which one's the accused?"
The story drew gales of laughter from the scores of lawyers, judges, reporters and court staff members at the dedication.
Elder Faust told of being in countries where dictatorships have written constitutions patterned after America's, even with the same provisions as in our Bill of Rights. But the supposed guarantees are not operational there.
Democracy is fragile, he warned. As democracies teeter around the world, as drug cartels take over countries in Central America and AIDS destroys the infrastructure of African countries, many Americans feel smug.
Many are disinclined to vote or to serve in an unpopular war, he said. Many seem obsessed with materialism, as if the measure of success were "what we have rather than what we are."
As keepers of the flame of this country's ideals, he said, we need to exemplify virtues sufficient to keep the ideals bright.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge Bruce S. Jenkins praised his fellow judges and the court staff members. "I want to say publicly that we have a great court," he said.
Plans are being drawn for the use of the rest of the first floor, he said.
Kent M. Kasting, president of the Utah State Bar, said relations between the courts and the bar in this state are among the best in the country. He attributed this to the uniformly high-quality judges.