On July 26, in the file room of the D.C. Superior Court’s civil division, the scene was decidedly Soviet. The service desk was unattended. A computer was down. And—most problematic for anyone browsing court files without the aid of a photographic memory—no copies were available.
Normally, visitors to the file room can cough up 50 cents per page—five times the going rate at Kinko’s—to have a court employee in a glassed-in room make their copies. But not this day: “All copies…are temporarily suspended due to a shortage of paper,” a sign taped to the wall above the service counter warned all copy-seekers. “If you have already placed an order for copies we apologize for the inconvenience. Have a good day.” Copies were also unavailable in the landlord-tenant branch’s file room.
While some swapped rumors of a Superior Court fiscal crisis, court spokesperson Leah Gurowitz blames the shortage on an ordering glitch. “The civil division ordered 25 cases of paper and got five,” says Gurowitz. “The problem was resolved that day.”
One forlorn man who inquired about supplying his own paper was summarily turned away. Later, a civil division employee confirmed that BYOP is not an option. “We don’t really make copies like that,” he said.