First Principles: The trial courtroom is not an abstraction

As I think about trying to discover the proper judicial role for the federal trial judge, it is helpful to remind myself that the courtroom is not an abstraction. It is a real place inhabited by flesh, blood and bones–including, all too frequently,  abject sorrow, seething anger, palpable hatred and unimaginable depravity.  Too often, when viewed from the appellate bench–and most particularly the Supreme Court–the trial courtroom is imagined in much the same way as Monet imagined his gauzy garden.

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