Students at Knightdale High School got a chance to learn what goes on before coming into a courtroom last week during the first Law and Justice Summit.
The three-day event was for sophomores who are currently enrolled in U.S. Government and Economics. It was a chance to learn some material that they might not get to delve into during normal class time, said social studies teacher Melody Solomon.
“(Students) see a lot of ‘Law and Order’,” Solomon said, but the summit gives them a chance to have a more complete view of the law.
Last Monday, Wake County Public Defender Charles Caldwell came to talk to students about insanity pleas and how the legal system handles people who may need treatment rather than punishment.
“(Students saw) it’s not just about convicting people, it’s about trying to help people who might be struggling with different issues,” Solomon said.
Caldwell recounted a case that involved a mother who injured her child and who ended up in custody until it was proven she was not a harm to herself or anyone else.
In the days leading up to Caldwell’s presentation, students heard from representatives from drug court and juvenile court, as well as professionals who work with death penalty cases and psychologists who are called as witnesses.
According to Solomon, it seemed the majority of students were interested in learning about capital cases and how psychologists or other medical professionals can be used in the legal profession.
She said that might have been because the subject matter of those professionals is easier for the students to grasp and didn’t require a lot of previous knowledge about legal proceedings.
“(Students typically liked) the people who had the stories of the things they can imagine,” she said.
The students were scheduled to meet a judge who would organize a mock trial, but changes in court dockets because of inclement weather made it difficult to schedule.