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No.1 October 2009

Welcome to the first edition of the Historical Society's electronic newsletter. We hope that by issuing quarterly newsletters, we can keep you well informed about the Society’s upcoming events, oral histories, website additions, and to other news and information about the Society and its history. Let us know what you think. We welcome your questions, ideas and comments. Email us at
Scales of Justice The History of the Historical Society

Incorporated on May 4, 1990, the Historical Society of the D.C. Circuit had two original goals: to commission the writing of a history of the D.C. Circuit Courts and to take the oral histories of judges of those courts and the practitioners and court managers who played key roles in the courts’ history.

The history, Calmly to Poise the Scales of Justice: A History of the Courts of the District of Columbia Circuit, was written by Professor Jeffrey Brandon Morris and was published in 2001. Read more...
Teapot Dome cases A Recent Historical Society Program

Using two of the Teapot Dome cases as a vehicle, two District Court judges and five prominent Washington attorneys shared their views on effective closing arguments in a lively discussion: “Timeless Elements of a Great Closing Argument: Lessons from the Teapot Dome Trials.” The video of the program is available online. Read more about Teapot Dome Trials and our previous programs.
Young Advocates Engaging High School Students

Each year, in late spring, judges from the appellate and trial courts of the D. C. Circuit hear arguments in their courtrooms presented by juniors and seniors from Washington area high schools. The young advocates argue cases that were previously heard in the D. C. Circuit Courts and that raise issues that are of interest to their age group. Volunteer lawyers from the city’s most prestigious law firms work with the students in the months preceding the Mock Court program, preparing them to present their arguments and to respond to judges’ questions. Awards are presented to the most outstanding advocates by the judges who participate in the program. Read more and see photos from the event.
Judge William Bryant Excerpts from an Oral History in the Historical Society’s collection

From the oral history of Judge William Bryant:

"A lot of people, a lot of judges have been raised like chickens on wire, you know, their feet have never hit the ground, they haven’t had any real experience in adversity, haven't been in any position where they deal with people who lie to them. I think the jury system is better. . ."

Read more of Judge Bryant's oral history or other oral histories here.