Why Do Judges Use Those Small Hammers?

Quck answer

Judges use tiny hammers called gavels to maintain order and signify important moments in a courtroom. The gavel is a symbol of authority and is used to quiet down the room, call for attention, or announce a decision. The size of the gavel is not significant, as it is more of a ceremonial tool rather than a functional one. The sound of the gavel hitting the block is meant to command attention and respect. It serves as a visual and auditory cue for everyone present in the courtroom, reminding them of the judge’s role as the presiding officer and the importance of the proceedings.

Bam! Bam! Order! Order in Wonderopolis! Bam! Order in Wonderopolis! Bam! Bam!

Don’t worry, we’re just joking—everyone knows Wonderopolis is anything but organized. But if that opening sounded familiar, you may be imagining a judge tapping a small hammer on a piece of wood and shouting, “Order in the court!”

That small hammer is called a gavel. It’s usually made of wood and accompanied by a base on which it can be struck. Why do judges use gavels? To maintain order in the courtroom, of course! After all, emotions can run high during a trial. If the gavel is brought out, it means the judge is requesting for things to calm down.

However, movies and courtroom dramas have given many people the wrong idea. Contrary to popular belief, judges don’t use gavels very often. They’re more likely to use their voices to quiet a room.

In fact, outside of the U.S., gavels are almost non-existent. They’re not even that common in U.S. courtrooms. Many judges do receive gavels as gifts for special occasions or to acknowledge achievements, but few actually use them.

However, there are a few other places where those small hammers are utilized. One example is in clubs and organizations. Many of them use a gavel to indicate the start or end of a group meeting.

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives also use gavels. Each Speaker of the House chooses their own gavel. In The Senate, though, the same one is used by every Vice President.

The Senate gavel is unique—it’s made of ivory and has no handle. Instead, it has an hourglass shape that’s held in the presiding officer’s hand. The original gavel was broken in 1954 during a debate. The nation of India gifted The Senate a new one that same year.

Are you WONDERing about the history of gavels? It’s a bit mysterious. Some believe their use goes all the way back to Medieval England, but no one can say for certain. However, they were definitely in use by 1789 when John Adams opened the first session of the very first U.S. Senate.

Do you dream of using a gavel to quiet a courtroom? Maybe you’ll be the one to bring them back into fashion. Or perhaps these small hammers are truly things of the past. We’ll let you be the JUDGE of that!

Try It Out

Ready to learn more? Check out the activities below with the help of a friend or family member.

Explore the World of Judging

If you have ever been interested in pursuing a career as a judge, you have come to the right place. In this article, we will delve into the details of this profession and provide you with valuable information. Once you have finished reading, you can create a brochure summarizing the most important aspects of this career path.

Become a Judge: A Career Guide

Are you feeling crafty? We have got something for you! Check out our step-by-step directions for creating your very own judge costume and gavel. Whether you want to make the full costume or just the gavel, we have you covered. Remember to seek adult supervision and review the supply list before you begin.

The History of Broken Gavels in the U.S. Government

Believe it or not, the U.S. government has a long-standing tradition of broken gavels. Discover the intriguing stories behind the Senate gavel and another broken gavel from the House of Representatives. Afterwards, you can share a summary of what you have learned with a friend or family member.

Wonder Sources

  • https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/art/artifact/Other_71_00002.htm (accessed 03 Mar. 2021)
  • https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/2004/01/18/the-judges-gavel-quietly-demoted-to-movie-prop/65f8a5e0-b905-439c-98e3-692d04a42326/ (accessed 03 Mar. 2021)
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNE0v4-SnjA (accessed 03 Mar. 2021)
  • https://learnersdictionary.com/ (accessed 03 Mar. 2021)

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