Students Get First Hand Experience Of Judicial System

By: Jon Sonnheim Email
By: Jon Sonnheim Email

He was found guilty by four different juries, but luckily for one area high school student, it was all a mock trial.

Tuesday was not a good day for "Daniel McPherson". You see, the high school student was in federal court facing drug possession charges with his future in the hands of six different juries of his peers. Luckily for "Daniel", played by Belfry High School Senior Jeff Brock, the handcuffs weren't a permanent fit as more than one hundred Pike County high school students took part in a mock trial in federal court.

"This is a historic day for us because this is the first time in the history of the Pikeville division there's been participation in this program," said U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove.

"The idea of the program is to give students an understanding of what goes on in the courtroom and how criminal cases are processed from beginning to end," said U.S. Attorney Amul Thapar.

The program is open doors to federal courts and allowed these students not only the opportunity to play witness, defendant, and jury member, but to experience a part of the legal system most had previously only seen in movies or television.

"It really was an amazing experience because I'm aspiring to be a lawyer," said Daniel Allen.

"It's not just you get to live in the U.S., you have to be an active working member," said Political Science Teacher Sarah Kincaid.

At least in this case, everyone left the courtroom with a smile.

Court officials say they hope to expand the open doors to federal court program throughout Eastern Kentucky in the future.

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