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eighthjdcourt

Info about the Eighth Judicial District Court.

Category Archives: Las Vegas 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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Fourth grade students from Rundle Elementary School had an eye-opening experience when they sat through Nevada Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Doug Herndon’s actual criminal calendar. The students reacted when the judge sentenced an armed robber to six to 20 years. One students remarked that he hadn’t even been alive that long. Judge Herndon and Judge Linda Bell fielded questions from the kids after the criminal calendar and before the students took on roles of judge, jury, attorneys, witnesses and marshals for a Harry Potter mock trial. Two classes were part of the pilot-program done in coordination with Project REAL. The activities are intended to teach students about the justice system, possible career opportunities and the consequences of criminal activities. A highlight for the kids was a taser demonstration conducted by District Court Marshal Tom Lemke.

Judge Herndon envisioned this mock trial program and wrote the script as a way to provide a fun and interesting way for young students to learn about the justice system. “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 to see career roles that they may want to consider in the future.”

Rundle Elementary is the first Clark County School District school to participate in this mock trial program. “We appreciate the teachers and principal bringing their students to watch a criminal court and participate in a mock trial,” said Judge Bell. “These kids are at the perfect age to learn about the justice system. Giving the students a front-row seat in a real courtroom helps them understand the impact people’s bad decisions have on others and on our community. We also hope to inspire these kids to become the next generation of lawyers and law enforcement professionals.”

To support the lessons in Judge Herndon’s script, Project REAL created three days of presentations and supporting worksheets. Project REAL’s staff then presented the lessons to the students of Rundle Elementary with support from their teachers. These activities prepared students for their Harry Potter experience by teaching them basic law-related vocabulary, trial procedure, and the roles and career opportunities available in the justice system.

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. More information about Project REAL can be found by visiting http://projectrealnv.org or contacting mkamer@projectrealnv.org.

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