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Nation’s ‘Mother Court’ Celebrates 225th Anniversary

A 225th anniversary ceremony honoring the first-ever federal court session held under the U.S. Constitution and Judiciary Act is captured in a newly released U.S. Courts video.

The event, held Nov. 4 in the ceremonial courtroom of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, honored a court session held Nov. 3, 1789, in the Royal Exchange Building in Manhattan.

The session, conducted by Judge James Duane, occurred three months before the U.S. Supreme Court also met in the Royal Exchange, which no longer exists.

The 1789 session gives the Southern District of New York claiming rights as the nation’s “Mother Court”—although as Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska notes in the video, the first sitting was not momentous, adjourning immediately without hearing any cases.

The Judiciary Now video also shows an exhibit that opened the same day. The exhibit shows 21 pieces of courtroom sketch art, which provide visual representations of some of the Southern District of New York’s most famous cases.

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