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eighthjdcourt

Info about the Eighth Judicial District Court.

Category Archives: Education

 

Nearly 80 fifth graders from Vanderberg Elementary School, quietly lined up on the first floor of the Regional Justice Center on April 23, as they waited excitedly to go to various courtrooms to watches judges go through their criminal calendars to status check cases, set dates and hand down sentences. The students, who were on their best behavior, were told to pay attention to all the work being done in the courtrooms and to consider this work as a future job for themselves. They were also told to observe each case and learn from them.

We’ve all heard the cliché crime doesn’t pay. The fifth graders from Vanderberg got a first-hand look at why the cliché is actually true, including those who visited District Court Judge Michael Villani’s courtroom to watch his felony criminal calendar proceedings. Judge Villani went through case after case, setting dates for further action and handing down sentences. Judge Villani asked a young man with a long prior record who was being sentenced for snatching a purse, “What can we do to get your attention?”  The young man tried to convince the judge that he had changed and had stayed out of trouble for a while. Judge Villani wasn’t convinced. He sentenced him to boot camp, a regimented program aimed at rehabilitating participants through education and life skills training, manual labor and extensive physical training. He was handcuffed and led off to a holding cell.

After the calendar session, the students watched as the defendants who had been sitting in the courtroom were led away in shackles to a holding area for transport back to the jail. On the way out, one of the defendants blurted, “Stay in school.”

In a question and answer session with the students, Judge Villani shared that he rather the young man who snatched the purse get help, not just punishment. He noted that what many of the defendants have in common is they don’t finish school and they get involved with drugs. Judge Villani said, “If you don’t finish high school, it’s hard to get a job.” He also advised the students that they will probably face peer pressure to do drugs. He warned of the downward spiral that results and is common to many who are convicted of crimes and end up in prison.

The school visit was part of the Project Real youth educational program. Project REAL, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, was founded in 2005 by Sam Lionel and Irwin Molasky to meet the challenge of teaching kindergarten through 12th grade Nevada students the importance of the law. They have taught over 160,000 Nevada students about the importance of the law with the goal of preparing them to be informed, law-abiding and participating citizens through their programs including: Your Day in Court, Play By the Rules, REAL Drama, and Independence & You. For more information from Project REAL, please contact Program Director Mike Kamer at mkamer@projectrealnv.org, call 702.703.6529, or visit http://projectrealnv.org.

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Two classes of third graders from the Las Vegas Day School held mock trials in Judge Jennifer Togliatti’s courtroom. The first class put fairy-tale sweetheart Goldilocks on trial for bad manners. Junior attorneys called witnesses including the entire Bear family and presented evidence including Baby Bear’s broken chair. A jury of her peers took copious notes, deliberated and found the accused guilty. Goldilocks was cuffed.

The second class heard the case against the Big Bad Wolf, who now goes by B. B. Wolf. An expert witness and others testified against the wolf who claimed he was just paying a visit to a friend.

The mock trials are a fun way for young students to learn about the justice system and get a feel for legal careers.

 

 

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Four fourth grade classes from Liliam Lujan Hickey Elementary School experienced justice in action at the Eighth Judicial District Court in early April. They  also got a view on where life-choices lead when they sat in on actual criminal calendars and saw judges, court employees and attorneys perform their jobs. They watched defendants in various stages of their cases, including sentencing. After viewing the calendar, students asked judges questions about  what they saw, and how and why it works that way. The Q&A session was followed by a mock trial of Harry Potter, who was charged with misappropriation of magic. The school visits are part of a new joint program between nonprofit agency Project Real, the District Court and schools.

District Court Judge Doug Herndon envisioned this mock trial program. He wrote the script to provide a fun and interesting method for young students to learn about the justice system. The activities promote the importance of education, highlight potential legal careers and demonstrate the outcome of bad choices. “This program is a good way for young students to see the legal profession in action. When they watch actual court proceedings, they see the unfortunate consequences of criminal activity,” said Judge Herndon. “The mock trials give the students a way to relate to and understand the justice system, and see career roles that they may want to consider in the future.”

Project REAL, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, was founded in 2005 by Sam Lionel and Irwin Molasky to meet the challenge of teaching K-12th grade Nevada students the importance of the law. They have taught over 160,000 Nevada students about the importance of the law with the goal of preparing them to be informed, law-abiding and participating citizens through their programs Your Day in Court, Play By the Rules, REAL Drama, and Independence & You. For more information from Project REAL, please contact Program Director Mike Kamer at mkamer@projectrealnv.org, call 702.703.6529, or visit http://projectrealnv.org.

The mock trial program is intended to contrast the view of careers in the justice system against the choice to get involved in criminal activity. This collaboration between the courts, Project Real and Hickey Elementary School involved a lot of work on the part of the judges and their departments in District Court, Project Real, and the teachers. Thanks to the many people who helped to make it come together so that the students could benefit from a real-world perspective.

 

 

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Judge Kathleen Delaney had a fifth grade class from St. Viator’s sit in on her calendar. After watching the wheels of justice turn in the courtroom, the wheels in the students’ minds were turning. They asked the judge some very thoughtful questions. One student got a big laugh when he asked the judge if she ever got frustrated with what happens in court.

Students from the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law spent part of their spring break in an alternative program where they learn about the practice of law and the courts. They sat in on court, attended a judges meeting and got some Q&A time in with the judges.

District Court is involved in a number of initiatives to educate students about the justice system.

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Advanced Technologies Academy (A-TECH) seniors looked and acted the parts of lawyers, engineers and other professionals when they did their capstone project before District Court Judge Joanna Kishner on Apr. 20.

Students from the legal studies program served as the attorneys in the case, while students from the business management and administration, architectural drafting and design, and engineering programs served as expert witnesses and defendants. A-Tech’s community partners and school staff  served as jurors.

The mock case centered around what was intended to be a fun-filled train trip with a marriage proposal. But things turned bad for the couple John and Jennifer. Jennifer sued the train company for inadequate security, inadequate staff training, and inadequate evacuation procedures. Architects and designers were dragged into the suit which resulted in a challenging capstone project for the A-TECH seniors with majors in law, business management and administration, architectural drafting and design.

Check out the YouTube video https://youtu.be/CDZpjl-r4aw

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A jury of his peers found Harry Potter not-guilty of the charge of misuse of magic. It may sound silly, but the premise of Harry Potter in trial gave a class of fourth grade students a great foundation to learn how justice works.

The junior legal eagles from The Meadows School experienced how criminal trials proceed when they served as judge,  jury, lawyers and witnesses for the misappropriation of magic case today with Judge Douglas Herndon at the Eighth Judicial District Court.

The accused was renowned master of magic Harry Potter, who was lawyered-up with top-notch student defense attorneys. Prior to the mock trial, the students witnessed the tail-end of Judge Herndon’s actual criminal calendar. The judge admonished a young defendant who had multiple felonies. He warned that the defendant’s children would be graduating college and have forgotten about him in jail, if he didn’t change his ways. The fourth graders were listening. When asked about it, one student commented to the judge that he thought he was harsh on the defendant. The judge took the opportunity to further the lesson by explaining the variables that a judge must consider.

Judge Herndon has been doing mock trials with students for years and said, “Mock trials are a fun and effective way to educate kids about the justice system.” He also makes it a point to explain how education and staying away from drugs and other bad choices are important to avoid running into trouble with the law.

He will host eighth grade classes on Apr. 12th and Apr. 14th at 10:30 a.m. for mock trials with a plot that Lee Harvey Oswald was not killed and instead goes on trial for the murder of President John F. Kennedy.

 

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The United States Supreme Court decision in Miranda v. Arizona turns 50 this year. The Ninth Circuit has come up with a great way to mark that exceptional decision: a contest with a cash prize. The Ninth Circuit has announced a civics contest with two categories: 1) Individual students can express their thoughts and ideas in an essay of 500 to 750 words, and 2) Individual students or teams of up to three students may submit a two to three minute video presentation on the theme. Students may participate in one or both competitions. The contest began January 1, and ends on April 15, 2016. Cash prizes are provided in both contests:  $2,000 for first place; $1,000 second place and $500 for third place. Check out this link to get more details http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/civicscontest. It would be great to have Nevada students enter the contest and take home a prize or two.

 

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