Second in the series on crazy courthouse stories is the Courthouses of Florida™ idea I had while working in courthouses all over my home state of Florida. Over the years when I have worked for attorneys during the jury selection process, I have observed their fondness for courthouses. They often regale me with stories about a case they once had, or a judge they once knew, or a jury they once had on a big case, but, in addition, many of my clients express a nostalgic feeling about a certain courthouse due to its architecture or another feature. These expressions regarding courthouses are frequent and have continued to the present time. After hearing numerous similar stories about courthouses from attorneys, I started asking them if they would like to have photos of their favorite courthouses. I told them I know an extraordinarily talented professional photographer, my spouse and business partner, David Fauss, who could be commissioned to take photos of their favorite courthouses. I surveyed many attorneys about my idea before telling David about it. David improved upon my idea by suggesting that he photograph courthouses in Florida that could be used in a calendar we could provide to our clients. David reasoned that a courthouse calendar would be an ever present reminder of Magnus to our clients throughout the year. We put our ideas to work and, for 20 years, we published a Courthouses of Florida™ calendar that featured David’s lovely photos of 12 courthouses. We had them professionally printed by our dear friend, Mark Weisser (thanks Mark!), then we shipped them to our clients at the end of each year, for their use the following year. Although we ceased publication of the calendar, David’s courthouse photos are memorialized on his Courthouses of Florida™ website and they grace the walls at the Florida Supreme Court, as well as many other courthouses and attorneys’ offices. I guess this crazy courthouse story wasn’t so crazy after all!
The crazy idea wasn’t that crazy and it turned into a challenging and mostly fun adventure. The phenomenon of associations, mostly positive, made by our clients with a particular courthouse has been interesting to observe. There are probably negative associations with some courthouses, but what we hear are, “That’s where I won my first big case”, or “That’s where I tried my first case.” As a result of Melissa’s idea, I started venturing around the state of Florida to take photos of the courthouses. (In that we are Florida based, we decided to make this a Florida project, though I do sometimes photograph courthouses outside of the state.) I’ve had to travel to most of the courthouses multiple times to catch the building in proper light, without construction and when it is not raining. Some are externally lighted, allowing night time photos, and some, because they are in the center of town, are decorated for the Christmas holiday season and I’ve tried to capture some of those images. I’ve also been re-photographing some of the earlier photographed courthouses digitally to add to my film images. Florida has 67 counties, each with at least 1 courthouse, but counting old and new, criminal and civil, State and Federal, there are closer to 150 courthouses statewide. I have now been able to photograph almost all of them; at this writing I can think of 2 I have yet to photograph. See www.courthousesofflorida.com to view the images. I have sold prints and have had court professionals and lawyers buy them for wall decorations in courthouses or their law offices. And, beyond the calendar and website, the images have taken a prominent part in Magnus’ marketing materials. We have “sprinkled” them throughout our printed and online materials to the point that they are a part of our business identity. So, those early discussions Melissa had with our clients created a monster of a project that is ongoing more than 20 years later. And, there you have the rest of the story.