Mural installation in Judge Yu's Courtroom aims at fostering civility

February 24, 2012

There will be lasting evidence of the importance of civility in the legal profession when a mural is installed in Judge Mary Yu's King County courtroom in March.

Created by 18 lawyers and judges, including Yu, during the April 2012 Civility Promise Seminar in Tuscany, the mural symbolizes the value of civility in the legal profession.  The Civility Promise, a collaboration between Seattle University School of Law and Robert's Fund, offers a series of seminars designed to foster civility.

"It is my hope that the presence of the mural in a courtroom where the 'adversarial battle' occurs daily might do two things: serve as an invitation to each lawyer to stop and step back for a moment and ask if there might be something they might do to promote civility in that particular moment; and serve to inspire lawyers and non-lawyers to adopt a set of attitudes, behaviors and skills that calls upon us to respect others, to remain open-minded, and to engage in honest and constructive discourse," Yu said.

mural Guided by Italian artist Sergio Tamassia, participants began with black and white shapes that they doodled on with paint. Collectively, they created a collage by gathering the shapes together on a 30-foot by 5-foot sheet of poster paper.

A reception marking the installation is set for 5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. Thursday, March 7, in Yu's courtroom at the King County Courthouse.

Professor Paula Lustbader created the groundbreaking Civility Promise program in memory of her uncle, Robert Lustbader. Her father, Alfred Lustbader, established Robert's Fund, a small Seattle-based foundation devoted to fostering more civility, to honor his brother.

"Civility is good for our health, our profession and our clients," Lustbader said. "When we as lawyers are civil, we can help de-escalate conflict and reduce rudeness.  Civility is a code of behavior that we can restore in our everyday lives and in the practice of our profession - all in the service of justice."

Yu agrees, and she's committed to fostering it in her courtroom. The mural is an intentional, public way of showing that.

"I am very proud of the work," Yu said. "It brings back warm memories of colleagues coming together in Tuscany to wrestle with some tough issues related to the promotion of civility. It is a beautiful creation made by lawyers and judges that expresses a deep desire to alter the way we treat one another in the legal profession."

RSVP for the reception by March 1.

Read more about the Civility Promise.