Letter Published in The Oregonian Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Startling Speed and Efficiency of Government

I am a volunteer mock trial coach for Catlin Gabel. In anticipation of the Classroom Law Project’s upcoming competition, I arranged for a Tuesday practice in the Multnomah County Courthouse.

Mid-morning on Tuesday, we learned that the Courthouse was shut down. I called the General Services Administration (“GSA”), the bureaucratic behemoth that manages every government facility, and requested the use of a courtroom in the old federal courthouse. The GSA said “yes,” asking only that we provide a few photos of the students in action. In addition, the GSA arranged for the Federal Protective Service, a division of Homeland Security, to guard the building during our evening use.

The students were suitably awed upon entry into the cavernous courtroom. More than one student shyly asked permission to sit (if only fleetingly) on the judge’s celestial throne. The practice was a smashing success, and our government deserves a shout-out.

Robert E.L. Bonaparte