I was doing some filing the other night and ran across this picture from a late 1950's Marshall newspaper showing state district judge Sam B. Hall, Sr. reading the charge to the jury in the Jack Redfern murder trial (Mr. Redfern was charged and convicted with shooting the man he believed was having an affair with his wife on the steps of the Marshall post office - and yes, that is the building that's now the federal courthouse. So every time I walk down those steps thinking I've just had a particularly bad day, I remind myself that it could be worse).
For a long time this was the only picture the courthouse renovation committee had of the courtroom, and in looking at it I realized I had always misunderstood the angle - but now having sat through three patent trials in the courtroom this spring before Judge Schneider (who coincidentally, attended a trial before Judge Hall, Sr. in this courtroom when in junior high), the picture is taken from what's now the defense counsel's table, looking across at the plaintiff's counsel's table - approximately the same angle as this 2009 photo (taken before the jury box and commissioners' court bench were installed).
If the face behind Judge Hall looks familiar, it should - that is his son Sam B. Hall, Jr., the future Eastern District federal judge who was cocounsel for Mr. Redfern in the case (yes, you could practice in your dad's court back then, although judging by the verdict, it didn't help). Judge Hall, Jr. has the same pose but a somewhat happier expression on his portrait that's just inside the doors of the federal courthouse across the street, which was named for him in 1994. And to bring things full circle, seen through his chambers window (through the magic of portraiture) is his dad's courtroom on the south side of the old Harrison County Courthouse.