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Front Page » June 24, 2003 » Opinion » Lady Justice could be found in someones basement
Published 4,136 days ago

Lady Justice could be found in someones basement


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By RICHARD SHAW
Staff reporter

Where is justice? Where does she lie? I mean literally.

I don't mean what the Bush administration and his attorney general seems to be trying to take away from certain citizens.

I don't mean the type of justice we all want from the 9-11 attacks or what the Iraqi people desire to see concerning the deposed Sadam Hussein.

Nor am I speaking of the idea that Reinhold Niebuhr, American political philosopher, had when he said, "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary."

I am speaking about justice literally. Or more to the point Lady Justice.

When the founders of this county decided it was time to build a beautiful courthouse in the late 19th century, they built it in the center of Price on 100 East and Main Street. The more modern version of it still stands in the same place today.

That building, along with the LDS Tabernacle that stood across the street, and the Greek Church just south of them on 200 East became icons for the community. Two of those symbols, of course, were religious, but that county courthouse, it was secular. It belonged to everyone regardless of religion, national origin, creed or political belief.

The designers of that building decided to put one of the basic symbols of the American democracy on top of it, like a wonderful cherry sitting on top of a lucious bannana split. They put Lady Justice on the peak of the dome with the scales in her left hand and her sword in the right.

One has to ask, what happened to that lady?

Certainly parts of the building were hauled off to the landfill to be covered by Carbon County soil. And surely some parts were taken away by building scrappers who used them in various ways to build other things. So just as certain, I am sure, Lady Justice must have been taken down and sent somewhere other than into the dark covering earth of the area.

Lady Justice, the symbol, is one of those icons most of us have taken for granted our whole lives. For anyone who has watched the old Perry Masons episodes on cable (or if you watched them when they were produced) she was prominantly displayed in many of the shows. She also has been in the beginning, middle or end of numerous movies and other television shows about the law.

Her image, as with many historical symbols, is shrouded in two or three possible origins. Some say she is of Greek origin, a kind of mortal goddess named Themis, who advised Zeus after a purge of the old pantheon. She became an oracle at Delphi and became known as a goddess of divine justice. In drawings of her she carried a scales in her one hand and a sword in the other with her eyes covered.

Regardless of where her image came from, Carbon County had it's own image of her, standing right on top of the tallest building in town for over 50 years. Now she is gone and no one seems to know what happed to her (the statue, hopefully not the actual justice).

Rumors around the county says she went any number of places after the demolition. Some say she is still hiding in someone's basement somewhere, buried in a corner behind years of stacked boxes and belongings. Others say that she is in the back of a county storage shed, just waiting to be found. Other say she was sold off or taken by someone to a far away place and now rests as a centerpiece in someplace foreign to our venue. Still others say she was just hauled away like the rest of the rubble from the building, and used as fill, now lying buried in a dark grave.

Lady Justice is not small. Based on photos of the old courthouse, she is likely more than 15 feet tall, maybe much larger. What she is made of has been lost in the mist of time. She could be molded of stone or metal or both. She could even be made of some type of plaster. I am still searching old archives of the newspapers from the time the building was built to see if I can find out.

I'd like to think that she is somewhere where we, the citizens of Carbon County, could discover her, and bring her back to life. Having spoken with the county commissioners about this, they would like to know where she went as well, and I think that if found, she would still find a suitable place somewhere in the seat of our local government. She could then proudly display her face to the light of day once again.

I realize there are many more pressing issues in this place we love than to find an old piece of statuary. But this is part of our heritage It is up to the citizens of this county to find her. If she lay within the county boundaries, someone knows where she is and could help to bring her back to her rightful place; a place where all the people of Castle Country can see her.

Of course she may be gone for good, and if someone knows that for sure they can put the search to rest.


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June 24, 2003
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