I’m one of the lucky ones. My daily commute includes a sunny, sub-mile-long stroll through an exceptionally picturesque parcel of downtown Santa Barbara. And, no matter how annoying the circumstances of my morning, when I pass the courthouse, I always smile-more than a little bit smugly-to myself: lucky, lucky girl.

The courthouse is a gem, of course, so much so that it seems somewhat ridiculous that its lush grounds don’t host a constantly revolving slate of lavish soirees. There are weddings, and the occasional hot-ticket event, sure, but as lovely as it is from a purely scenic perspective, it had always seemed a shame, to me, function-whore that I am, that some visionary of the party-planning set wasn’t taking regular advantage of that sprawling lawn and its stellar architectural backdrop. Don’t get me wrong, I do realize that it has an official function, but surely such a setting is meant for more than crime and punishment.

Fortunately, it turns out that great minds think alike. This summer, the folks at Premiere Events-who never met a party they couldn’t perfect-took it upon themselves to put the spot to amazing use with their Thursday night Courthouse Jazz series. The weekly endeavor benefited a different nonprofit each time and featured free admission to the Sunken Gardens, as well as the option to kick down for the VIP treatment, food, cocktails, and, of course, live music. And last Thursday-sadly, the last of the series-I trekked those few blocks to check it out.

The series finale, for which, appropriately enough, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) was the designated beneficiary, kicked off at 5 p.m. I arrived a bit later to find Nate Birkey and company providing the tunes, families picnicking on the lawn, and my name on the VIP list, which meant entree to the swanky, makeshift lounge above.

I let it sink in. Plush couches, a gourmet buffet courtesy of neighboring restaurant Elements, a bar, good jazz, a cool crowd, and a killer sunset at an incredible spot that sits-almost literally-in my own backyard. A lawyer or criminal I’m not; I’m but a lucky, lucky girl. But I do feel qualified to say that every day at court should look like this.


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