The last time I saw Judiciary Square, it was a huge mound of dirt as construction of a new garage beneath the Square got underway. But now I understand that the brilliant gold statute of a naked woman and a fawn has returned to the Square. Have you ever wondered WHY there is a statue of a naked woman and a fawn behind CAAF’s courthouse? Here’s the story.

The statue is part of the Joseph J. Darlington Memorial Fountain, as explained by Jacob Stein on pages 302-03 of his collection of legal commentaries. Darlington was a prominent member of the D.C. bar in the last part of the 19th Century and first part of the 20th. As Mr. Stein explains, “Shortly after his death, friends commissioned a memorial to be erected in his honor . . . .” Congress even got into the act, passing a public resolution authorizing the erection of the statue in Washington, D.C. 67 Pub. Res. 98 (1923). In a precursor of later battles between law and art, the statue’s inclusion of a nude woman proved controversial when the fountain was installed in October 1923. But the sculptor, Carl Paul Jennewein, answered his critics by saying the woman was “direct from the hand of God instead of from the hands of a dressmaker.” John Kelly, Answer Man Sleuths For Missing Sculptures, Wash. Post, Aug. 20, 2006, at C2. Some of you may recognize Jennewein’s name — he also sculpted the bare-breasted statue at the Department of Justice that John Ashcroft had ordered hidden behind drapes. One very funny web site refers to that episode and offers a modified version of the Darlington Fountain promoting similar modesty.

But here’s my favorite part of the story, again as told by Mr. Stein: “Darlington’s greatest successes were in the trial courts, but the U.S. Court of Appeals often reversed cases he had won and sent them back for retrial. Perhaps, one of Darlington’s friends noted, that is why the nymph’s behind faces the old U.S. Court of Appeals.” That old D.C. Circuit courthouse is now, of course, home to CAAF.

Maybe that helps to explain why CAAF has been so solicitous of mooning. See United States v. Choate, 32 M.J. 423, 427 (C.M.A. 1991) (“our opinion today should not be construed as making criminal mere college-type pranks like ‘mooning,’ even if conducted on a military base”).

–Dwight Sullivan

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