Provided by the PWC Bar
Each spring, the Prince William County Bar Association conducts a series of tours of the Judicial Center for the benefit of eighth grade students, to help them gain a better understanding of the judicial process and to inspire them to consider law or law enforcement as a career. The program is open to all public middle schools in the local area, and this year, twelve schools are participating. Each tour takes approximately four hours and is facilitated by volunteer attorneys, with participation from judges, clerks, sheriff’s deputies and court interpreters.
Today’s tour benefited students from and was led by attorneys Jacqueline Lucas and Bernadette Peele, both with the County Attorney’s Office. Ms. Lucas began by telling the students about the different levels of court, (Circuit, General District and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts), and what types of cases might be heard in each. She talked about the different types of attorneys that might appear in court: county attorneys, commonwealth attorneys, defense attorneys, or plaintiff attorneys; depending upon on the types of cases being heard. She also explained the educational process required to become a licensed attorney and asked the students how many wanted to be attorneys, law enforcement officers or court translators.
Judges in the Circuit and General District Courts generously allowed students to sit in their courtrooms while court was in session so they could see actual cases being tried. Prior to the start of court, Ms. Lucas explained the layout of the courtrooms to the students and invited the sheriff’s deputy to speak to the students. He explained his responsibility for courtroom security and provided information about the education and training required to become a deputy. Judge William E. Jarvis, of General District Court, used a break in his morning docket to call all the students up to the front of the courtroom to talk with them and answer questions. He explained the duties of the clerks, the court reporters and the concept of being a court of record. He also explained how the judicial appointment process works and why he wanted to become a judge. Ms. Schumacher, a teacher at Stonewall shared her appreciation for the court tours program, indicating that the students are genuinely “excited to learn about the judicial process”.
Following the tour, the students visited the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District court where they participated in a Mock Trial. The mock trial depicted a typical situation teenagers might experience: underage possession of alcohol at a party when the parents are not home. As the scenario unfolded, the importance of making good choices regarding the friends they keep, the places they go, and the things they do became very clear.
Earlier this month, the PWC Bar hosted a tour for the benefit of students at Bull Run Middle School. Mr. O’Casey, a teacher at Bull Run shared the following words of appreciation: Thank you to the PWC Bar Association for the work they do for the 8th grade Civics students in PWCS. Today, students from Bull Run Middle School had an amazing opportunity to visit the courthouse, see both the Circuit & District courts, witness bond hearings & arraignments, and ask questions about our judicial system. We have done this for several years now and the judges, bailiffs, and attorneys welcome us with patience and lots of answers! Please continue this wonderful program for PWCS students.
According to Turkessa Rollins, Esq., the chair of the court tours program for the PWC Bar and an associate at Fullerton and Knowles, “we have hosted this program, every spring since 2007, and every year, the program grows to include additional schools. We have a loyal group of volunteers who help to make the judicial process come alive for the students who participate, and we truly appreciate the willingness of the courts, clerks and bailiffs to work with us in this endeavor.”
For more information about this and other community service projects sponsored by the PWC Bar Association, visit them on-line at www.pwcba.org.