The third graders are studying the court system, and will be putting the Big Bad Wolf on trial later this Spring (Aliza is a defense attorney).
Today Aliza and her classmates got to see a judge and lawyers in action while they sat in on the morning's (non-jury) preliminary hearings (lots of bail and fine discussions) at the Torrance Courthouse. The kids were surprised -- and a bit spooked -- to see that the defendants were mostly young, handcuffed, and wearing color-coded L.A. County jail jumpsuits. As talking was not permitted during the hearings, I attempted to translate the proceedings and type them into Notes in my iPhone, which the kids then passed around.
- The man in the light green shirt with COUNTY JAIL on the back was out of jail, but he never showed up to check in with his probation officer, and so is going back to jail for a year.
- The man in handcuffs and the blue jail jumpsuit has been arrested and put in jail until he has a trial. He was accused of several things that they are not saying but one is that he may be in a gang. His lawyer is asking if he can pay bail and go home until his trial in march. He lives with his whole family... He is going to be able to pay bail and go home to his family until march.
During a recess, the judge allowed the children to explore the whole courtroom, his chambers, and the jury room. They also got to meet the bailiff and a lawyer who represents under-privileged defendants.
Take-away lesson 1:
Don't break the law, kids!
Afterwards we walked across the street to the police station where the K-9 officers and motorcycle police did a little demo. The officers were incredibly patient with all the questions and loooong stories about each child's experiences with dogs.
Take-away lesson 2:
If a police car has a dog sticker on it,
it is NOT an invitation to put your face against the window
and say "Hi!" to the doggy
Take-away lesson 3:
Don't try to pet or talk to or distract a police dog when he is working
Take-away lesson 4:
Torrance can afford police dogs bred in Europe
(their police dogs do not respond to commands in English)
Take-away lesson 5:
Today should be the only time you ever ever ever
get into the back of a police car