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History, Law, New York City, Jury Ballot Box, Thurgood Marshall Courthouse, c. Late 1930s

$3,200

Jury Selection Ballot Box
Courtroom 318, Foley Square Courthouse, New York City
American: c. Late 1930s
Mahogany with brass hardware
15 x 13.75 x 13.75 inches
$3,200

A New York City Courthouse jury ballot box of historic importance. An excellent gift choice for an attorney, judge, or law student.

An historic jury selection rotating wheel-form octagonal ballot box from the famed Courtroom 318 of what was then known as the Foley Square Courthouse in New York City. It was removed during renovation of that building, which began in 2006. The box is of typical form having eight flat ends enclosing two octagonal planar sides. One of the flat ends has a lift door to place juror names inside the hollow box. The whole box rotates on two opposite triangle trestles, each centered by a fluted flat pillar, decorated at top by a circular roundel and surmounted by a turned round spherical finial. One trestle side as a round knob for turning the box to mix juror names inside. The turning box rests on a self-contained molded square base that bears a gummed white label with a red border that has the number 318 written in felt tip marker, that had been applied when it was in use. The box is of unusually high craftsmanship, made with solid wood and veneers selected for their attractive grain patterns.

Product description continued below.

Description

A former New York City assistant district attorney has authenticated the shape and form of the box as typical for lower Manhattan court houses and indicated these boxes were still in use until relatively recently. He explained that jury wardens used them to narrow the very large pool of jurors called for jury duty. The potential juror names — as appearing on the paper stubs of their jury subpoenas — would be placed inside the box and mixed by turning the knob. Those persons randomly selected would then be further considered before the judge, the district attorney, and the defense attorney, for final selection to sit on a petit or grand jury.

The Foley Square Courthouse was completed in 1936 for district court federal trials under the jurisdiction of the Southern District of New York in Manhattan. As its name suggests, it is located at 40 Foley Square (also known as 40 Centre Street). It was renamed the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse in 2001 by Act of Congress. Its interior and exterior were renovated from 2006 to 2013. During these renovations, this ballot box was removed and discarded, but salvaged by the prior owner.

Courtroom 318 has been the location of many famous trials of notorious figures requiring enhanced security. An account of United States v. Bin Laden et al., the 2001 Al-Qaeda trials that took place there in relation to the 1998 East African Embassy bombings, described it as follows:

The Foley Square federal courthouse in lower Manhattan, Room 318 is reserved for high-security trials. A cavernous room with wood-paneled walls and dark marble pilasters, it is only a few steps from the gated crosswalk to the Metropolitan Corrections Center. In case of a disturbance, guards can be rushed into the courtroom and defendants can be hustled back to their cells (Benjamin and Simon, p. 41).

In addition to various other high-profile trials, Courtroom 318 is well known in relation to the 1966 arrest of Joseph Bonnano (1905-2002), the boss of the Bonanno organized crime family from 1931 to 1968, being where he chose to surrender himself to the authorities:

“[The pre-arranged plan] was that my father would just show up at the federal courthouse at Foley Square in Manhattan, go to courtroom 318, which handled the arraignment calendar, and announce to the judge that he was Joseph Bonnano — then wait. Because he would be sitting in a federal courtroom, he would then have to be taken into custody by the court’s cops — the U.S. Marshal’s Service, rather than the FBI. […] When my father actually entered the Foley Street courthouse that day, he was wearing the same suit, shirt, tie, shows, and socks he had been wearing the day he disappeared more than two years before. The media, when they caught on, reported this with a flourish (Bonanno, p. 241).

Condition: Generally very good, with a handsome finish and patina to the wood, having the usual expected overall wear from handling. Old paper gummed label with the number 318 a bit soiled and worn with light dampstain, and minor chipping to outer edges, but quite intact.

References:

Benjamin, Daniel and Steven Simon. The Age of Sacred Terror: Radical Islam’s War Against America. New York: Random House, 2003. p. 41.

Bonanno, Bill. Bound by Honor: A Mafioso’s Story. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999. pp. 241-242.

Additional information

Century

20th Century