Nevada County’s fifth-graders get sneak peek at criminal justice system
“How many cases do you see in one day?”
“How many cases do you win versus lose?”
“How bad is the food in jail?”
Nevada County’s fifth-graders got the chance to have these and many other questions answered by, respectively, a Superior Court judge, the Assistant District Attorney, and a Nevada County Sheriff’s bailiff during the county’s annual Law Day at the courthouse Friday.
Law Day is an annual field trip for students to better understand what happens in court and learn about the role of law enforcement, said Melissa Parrett, Nevada County Superintendent of Schools’ student services program coordinator.
Law Day welcomed roughly 650 students to the courthouse building while observing presentations by judges, attorneys, bailiffs and representatives from law enforcement. The tour included three stations of learning:
• How the Courts Work — an introduction to what takes place in each courtroom, the roles of the judge, district attorney and public defender, and the differences between the criminal, family and juvenile courts. During this section of the day, students take on the roles of judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, jury pool, victim, bailiff and even court reporter, and conduct a mock trial with their teacher as a bike thief.
• The Role of Law Enforcement in the Justice System — to include an overview of basic constitutional rights, such as privacy rights and rights of search and seizure.
• A tour of the old county jail facility area; the highlight here is the opportunity for the students to be very briefly locked into one of the old jail cells, where they can scream for release at ear-splitting volume.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said attorney Ray Oleson, acting as a public defender, adding he volunteered last year and jumped at the opportunity to return.