This photograph depicts the mural named “The Law.”
It was painted by Edwin Blashfield and hangs in the East Courtroom of the historic United States District Courthouse, Customs House and Post Office at Cleveland, Ohio.
The East Courtroom is also the model for movie scenes in “Presumed Innocent.”
Eugene V. Debs, Socialist candidate for U. S. President in 1920, was convicted in this courtroom in 1918 under the Sedition Act for speaking against the First World War. Later, the courtroom held the civil trial of Governor Rhodes and Ohio National Guardsmen, following the deaths and maiming of students from Kent State University. U. S. District Judge William K. Thomas conducted those proceedings, and served in this courtroom for 25 distinguished years.
“The Law” has its own share of controversies. It portrays two angels surrounding the Ten Commandments, with Moses, Muhammed and Justinian looking on. This courtroom art has been cited by attorneys to support displaying the Ten Commandments in public courtrooms.*
The artist, Edwin Howland Blashfield, was born December 5, 1848, in New York City and studied in Paris before joining the National Academy of Design in New York, in 1888. His murals have adorned edifices such as the dome in the manufacturers building at the Chicago Exposition of 1893; the dome of the Congressional library, Washington; the state capitols of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin; a Baltimore courthouse; an appellate courthouse in New York City; the grand ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel; the Lawyers Club; and the residences of W. K. Vanderbilt and Collis P. Huntington in New York.
*See Free Thought Society of Greater Philadephia v. Chester County, Case No. 02-1765, Third Circuit, United States Court of Appeals, brief of amicus curiae, American Center for Law and Justice.