As hare-brained as Tom and Carol’s scheme may be, the timing of Judge Canter’s death and the internal design of the New York County Courthouse combine to make it plausible. By the time they discover that the judge is dead – approximately 11:00 AM on New Year’s Eve – the courthouse is almost deserted. The design of chambers – a self-contained three-room suite – affords them the privacy to prep the judge’s body and smuggle him out of the building.
The chambers depicted in Midnight is based on an actual chambers in the New York County Courthouse. Here are a few photos of that chambers. Please excuse the mess. A judge’s chambers in a busy courthouse can be littered with case files, correspondence, and works-in-progress.
The View from Tom’s Desk
Tom and Carol share the anteroom. This shot, taken from Tom’s desk, looks directly down the “avenue of doors” through the middle room to Judge Canter’s office and his large desk. Carol’s desk is to the left and the conference table, where Tom drafts motion decisions, is to the right.
For reasons that should be obvious from this picture, Tom spends little time actually sitting at his desk. In the background is the entry door, where Jerry Elliott and Dominic each make rather dramatic entrances.
The Middle Room
This narrow room separates the anteroom from Judge Canter’s private office. In the book, it is filled with potted plants and filing cabinets. This chambers has only one potted plant (obviously not a “lush schefflera”) and only two small file cabinets. The table in the right foreground, however, is similar to the table where Judge Canter leaves piles of signed decisions for Carol to process and file.
Judge Canter’s Desk
The book describes this desk as stretching almost the entire width of the room with an “orange cast accentuated by the light from two Tiffany chandeliers.” Judge Canter signs the decision dismissing Bobby Werkman’s lawsuit here on New Year’s Eve morning. Two days later, working feverishly to save himself and Carol, Tom sits behind this desk and feels the ghostly presence of Judge Canter looking over his shoulder.
Judge Canter’s Final View
Judge Canter’s private office has two black velvet couches, but its real-life analog had only one. This photo is shot from that couch, which is where Judge Canter would have taken his fateful nap. The other couch, where Tom and Carol later sat and pondered their predicament, would have stood against the far wall, with the all-important Oriental area rug covering the “bland industrial wall-to-wall carpet” in between. This view approximates what Judge Canter would have seen as he closed his eyes for the last time.