On Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, the Los Angeles Superior Court hosted a community outreach event titled Teachers Courthouse Seminar, a program designed to provide teachers with a practical understanding of constitutional rights as they apply to court proceedings. The goal of the program was to have the participating teachers return to their classrooms and educate their students on constitutional rights within the trial court setting.

The seminar, a previous recipient of the prestigious Ralph N. Kleps Award, was attended by 30 teachers from schools across Los Angeles County. The all-day event was held at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, located at 210 W. Temple St., Los Angeles.

The seminar provided an opportunity for the teachers to view proceedings in a variety of courtrooms before eight judicial officers. They observed arraignments, bail hearings, suppression motions, preliminary hearings, plea bargains, jury selection, and trial proceedings; and the cases ranged from a failure to appear in court to murder.

The seminar focused on the following topics:

• Structure of courts and organization of the courthouse

• Criminal court proceedings

• Criminal and juvenile sentencing laws including Three Strikes and Proposition 36 (mandatory drug diversion for certain offenses)

• Search and seizure and police interrogation (4th and 5th Amendment) issues

• Jury service including challenges for cause and peremptory challenges

• Court websites throughout the U.S. that can be used as teaching aids

Each participating judge hosted a question and answer session to discuss the teachers’ observations. Lunch was provided at the Hall of Justice where they were welcomed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney, Jackie Lacey.

Teacher Michael Cazares said “It was a privilege to see multiple agencies working together so cohesively to administer justice in such an effective manner.”

The program was so successful that the Los Angeles Superior Court plans to host another seminar this spring.

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