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Civics class visits Superior Court

Members of Robert Foshee’s Civics class ventured out into the world of public judicial affairs with their visit to the Fresno County Courthouse on Oct. 22. The trip provided students with insight into legal matters, and the procedures the court uses when approaching cases.

“We wanted to give the students a hands-on learning experience,” Foshee said. “We agreed that it would be better for them to see how these things work in real life, rather then just having them soak it all in from the text books.”

This marks the first year that the civics class has taken a trip like this. Planning began about five months ago when Foshee contacted the courthouse to schedule an appropriate date when the class would be able to hear from a judge and ask questions directly.

Senior bible teacher Scott Falk accompanied the class on its visit.

“It was interesting to witness the realities of a real life courtroom in session,” Falk said. “We got to see first hand exactly how the judicial branch functions.”

The class was surprised to see the striking differences between the real-life courtroom and those they had seen on T.V.

“The courtroom set up was much different then expected,” Foshee said. “I had thought that things would be more spread out, but everything seemed very crunched. The prosecution and the defendants sat right next to each other.”

The cramped quarters were due primarily to the courtroom’s excessive workload. The class spoke to Hon. Judge Robert H. Oliver. He commented that since 1987, the caseload had doubled, but only one more courtroom had been added to the building.

“We learned a lot just from asking the judge questions,” Greg Tharpe, ’04, said. “He said that he has to treat each case as if it were the case of the century, because to the person involved, it is.”

With the exception of a few, most of the students who attended were seniors. One of these seniors, Greg Andris, got a lot out of the visit by talking directly with the judge himself.

“One thing that I learned,” Andris, ’03, said, “is that all of the papers in the lawyer’s briefcase are very important. I think that it would be difficult to be a judge, but being a lawyer seemed like a good job because I like to argue.”

Foshee summed up the trip as a success, and remarked that he would continue to plan the same trip in future years.

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