It was the strangest of courtrooms.
There were no official trappings: no portraits of retired jurists; no government seals; no court reporter; no jury box. No microphones or computers or broad wooden tables for the lawyers. No Bible for swearing witnesses.
The courtroom, hastily constructed in a semitrailer, measured a mere eight feet wide by twenty-eight feet long.
Judge Westlake scanned the small room. An American flag draped a brass pole in the front corner. Maroon carpet concealed a pitted plywood floor. Brown sound-dampening panels lined the walls and ceiling of the trailer. Elevated insignificantly above the proceedings, the Judge nestled behind a small desk in a black nylon robe. Not his official robe, but one purchased at a costume store, complete with a white wig reminiscent of those worn by English barristers or constitutional statesmen. The Judge had discarded the wig, and his dark hair shimmered slightly under the fluorescent lights.
With hands clasped on the desk, he leaned forward. Steamy air inside the metal box, heated from a day in the sun, smelled of aftershave and sweat. And fear.
“The Court calls for trial the case of United States of America versus Henry Lyman Lawter.”
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