Young people today spend a lot of their time looking at computer screens. Whether it’s looking at social media, playing video games, watching movies or even taking classes, much of what kids learn …
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Young people today spend a lot of their time looking at computer screens. Whether it’s looking at social media, playing video games, watching movies or even taking classes, much of what kids learn and experience is done electronically.
Fifteen students from Elizabeth High School recently stepped out of the electronic world and into the real world of a courtroom, when they visited the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office to learn about criminal trial procedure. Students from John Loutzenhiser’s business law class spent the day observing jury selection for a DUI trial, asking questions and giving their input into the process.
“This is the first time we’ve taken them to the DA’s office,” said Loutzenhiser. “The key difference is they actually sat in on part of the trial, and you just can’t get that experience from sitting in a classroom. They saw the reality of life.”
Students started the day hearing from Amy Ferrin and John Kellner, chief deputy district attorneys, about their jobs, the court process and what to expect when attending a court room trial. DA George Brauchler explained more about the judicial district, then students were taken to a courtroom, where they saw firsthand how a jury is selected.
“I think most of the students had a general knowledge about jury duty, but were able to see how a jury was actually selected,” said Loutzenhiser. “Judge Cutler was very candid about how serious jury duty is, and told the kids: `In our society we don’t ask you, as citizens, to do much. Pay taxes and once in a blue moon show up for jury duty.’”
During lunch, students were able to interact with the attorneys and ask questions about what they had seen.
“These were a really bright group of kids who were thoughtful about what they saw, and asked good questions about the process and procedures,” said Ferrin. “They wanted to know more about where the judge got the information read to them, and why jurors were told certain things.”
Students inquired about the nature of the charges, and what evidence the prosecution might be expected to bring to the stand, and discussed the concept of admissible evidence, and whether it was better to put a witness on the stand or submit a report from a witness.
“I think it was very beneficial for the students to spend time in a courtroom,” said Loutzenhiser.”One of the main reactions I got was from four or five kids who really liked it and decided pursuing a career in law is what they want to do.”
Ferrin said they enjoyed having the students in the court room, and hope to have more students visit the DA’s office in the future.
“We would like to have more schools and programs take advantage of this opportunity. This was a fantastic experience for us,” said Ferrin. “To come in and understand this amazing system we have that lets not a single person or a judge decide if the prosecution proved their guilt.”
Those interested in bringing groups to the DA’s office can send an email through the website at www.da18.org.
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