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Two Courthouses

Harris County has separate courthouses, both built in the last seven years, for its civil and criminal courts. Courthouse number one is a dingy-looking beige building, solid and generally functional; courthouse number two is ornate, with a dome on top.

In courthouse number one, a judge enters her courtroom from a door to the side and climbs up to her bench; in courthouse two, a judges enters her courtroom through a limestone archway behind her benches (if I were a judge in courthouse number two, I would definitely invest in a fog machine to make my entrances even more oracular; maybe a strobe light too).

Courthouse number one has limited technology built in, and that technology was outdated when the courthouse first opened; courthouse number two has all the technological bells and whistles — WiFi, projectors with drop-down screens, and so forth.

Courthouse number one has too few elevators for the crush of humanity that visits its halls every morning; courthouse two’s elevators rarely carry more than one person apiece.

By now, if you’re a courthouse aficionado, you’ve figured out which is the criminal courthouse and which the civil. So tell me: why has the grand entrance hall of courthouse number two smelled like cat urine since the day it opened?


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