Court room Paper

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Following are the guidelines for visiting a working courtroom and submitting a paper about your experience.

1. The court action that you attend must be either a jury trial, bench trial (it’s still a trial, but the judge makes the decision of guilt or innocence, not the jury), or a preliminary hearing. Preliminary hearings are hearings to show that in felony cases, the prosecutor has probable cause to proceed to trial. They are much shorter than trials, but you will see live testimony. If a preliminary hearing is under an hour, then you will need to watch another one. Make sure you stay for approximately 2-3 hours.

2. You can show up to the courthouse any day of the week, although there is much less going in the court on Friday mornings and afternoons. Ideally you should go on a Mon, Tues, Wed or Thurs. All you have to do is go to the courthouse and ask the information desk or the deputies in the front if there is a trial going on or a preliminary hearing. They can point you in the right direction.

3. Courthouses are located in Chula Vista (free parking), El Cajon (free parking), Vista (free parking) and downtown (paid parking around the courthouse). It’s always more fun, and cheaper, to carpool! I’ll add a discussion thread where you all can communicate about going together if you so choose. But remember, each student will turn in their own original paper detailing their experience.

4. Dress in a casual but professional outfit. No need to wear a suit or tie, but no shorts, ripped jeans, etc. Look professional. You represent Grossmont, so how you present yourself is very important.

5. The bailiff in the courtroom will likely want to know who you are. Tell them you’re a Grossmontstudent there to observe for a class assignment. You have every right to be there, courtrooms are open to the public.

3. Submit a written report of your experience.

In order to organize your paper, you could do something like this:

Info about your hearing/trial including courthouse location, department number of courtroom, judge’s name and attorneys’ names if you can get them.

Facts of the case.

Your impression of the witnesses you saw testify. Where they believable, why or why not? What did they testify to? Were they witnesses to the crime? Or were they police officers that showed up afterward?

Your overall opinion about the quality of the attorneys’ work.

Your impression of the judge, how did the judge keep order in the court, was he/she respectful, etc.

Where there family members of the victim or defendant in the audience, and if so, were they quiet and respectful?

Do you have an opinion whether the defendant is guilty or not?

Do you have any questions about the process now that you’ve seen a real-life hearing/trial?

This synopsis will be typewritten and double-spaced. There is a two-page minimum, but no maximum.

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