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COURT OF NISI PRIUS

The COURT OF NISI PRIUS, an invitational social club limited to a special membership of lawyers and judges that meets every week for companionship, began when a group of young lawyers that had been gathering informally for fellowship was officially organized by 2 Cleveland lawyers, Homer H. McKeehan and John W. Hart. The first official meeting, held on 19 May 1900 in the Turkish Room of the Bismarck Hotel on Huron St., elected McKeehan as "judge," while Hart was designated "clerk of court." The club's activities, including their Saturday meetings, are characterized by a spirit of mock solemnity in which the club is a "court," meetings are "sessions," and written notices are "writs," "pleas," "warrants," "judgments," "summonses," and "subpoenas." For many years the club met at the HOLLENDEN HOTEL; they later transferred their headquarters to the Terminal Tower, returned to the Hollenden, and then moved to the Theatrical Restaurant. The entertainment at the court's annual dinner, traditionally held in April, features satirical skits and comic sketches written and produced by club members and designed to satirize their colleagues, public officials, invited guests, and current events of universal interest. On 30 Jan. 1915, the first "Grand Order of the Double Cross" awards were presented to JEREMIAH J. SULLIVAN, David C. Westenhaver, NEWTON D. BAKER, ROBT. J. BULKLEY, and JAS. R. GARFIELD. Although this honor is annually awarded to prominent citizens in jest, it contains an oblique reference to their contributions to the City of Cleveland.