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From Class to Court at D'Evelyn Jr./Sr.

From Class to Court at D'Evelyn Jr./Sr. High School
Posted on 01/16/2019
This is the image for the news article titled From Class to Court at D'Evelyn Jr./Sr. High SchoolAnother school day was fully underway at D’Evelyn Jr./Sr. High School. On one side of the building, an AP physics teacher was going over project requirements for his students. On the other side of the building, another teacher goes over the basics of expository writing. While in the auditorium, the Colorado Court of Appeals had begun the first of two case reviews. D’Evelyn students had the rare privilege of witnessing actual legal proceedings, as part of “Courts in the Community,” an educational outreach program started by the Court of Appeals and the Colorado Supreme Court.

“The goal of the Courts in the Community program is to expose our citizenry, starting with our high school students, to what our appellate courts do,” explained Colorado Court of Appeals Judge Terry Fox. “By actually viewing some real live arguments, the students and their teachers have an opportunity to participate in a real oral argument presented by lawyers and presided over by a three-judge panel.”

“I always think it is great for us, as judges, to get out into the community and let people see what we do, let people see that we are real human beings,” added fellow Colorado Court of Appeals Judge Jerry Jones.

The D’Evelyn students have been studying the cases in detail in class. One of them was an appeal by a former Denver Police officer fired for excessive force.

“It was pretty cool, actually. I hadn’t seen it like this or thought about it looking like this before,” said student Von Jordan. “They didn’t even have to change much which also surprised me, actually, because I’ve been in a court before from a student mock trial. I was surprised by how professional it felt.”

“I was curious about how complicated the cases are. If they get focused more specifically from the trial to the appellate or if they have more things that get uncovered that they need to address,” added student Danielle Morin.

“I thought it would be a little bit more black and white,” said student Hunter Byram. “Just from studying it his only mistake was not filling out the paperwork, but then the other attorney brought up some good points and it really, it shifted into, kind of like, a grey area.”

While the court was in recess, students had time for a Q & A with the attorneys and later, the judges.

“It’s good to see them engaged. We want them to be more engaged, so they are more familiar with our system and how it really works as opposed to how they see it on TV,” said Judge Jones.

“Those shows totally misrepresent what it is and what it is truly like,” said student Matt Nguyen.

While it’s a learning experience for students, for the professionals, it’s hope that future generations may join the legal field, or, at least get involved in government.

“We see the future sitting out there. These kids they’re going to be making the important decisions, and they’re going to be making the decisions that impact our country,” said Colorado Court of Appeals Judge Rebecca Freyre. “They’re the future of our democracy and part of that is understanding how our system works, how all branches of the system work, including the judiciary, so I see a lot of hope. I see a lot of enthusiasm.”

“It really did affect me,” said Nguyen. “It was really interesting.”