Thea James, Emma Macauly and Natalia Sherwood listen to information about a holding cell while they explore it at the Homer Courthouse on Oct. 8, 2018 in Homer, Alaska. The Fireweed Academy students and their classmates took a field trip to the courthouse to learn more about its inner workings and the law. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Thea James, Emma Macauly and Natalia Sherwood listen to information about a holding cell while they explore it at the Homer Courthouse on Oct. 8, 2018 in Homer, Alaska. The Fireweed Academy students and their classmates took a field trip to the courthouse to learn more about its inner workings and the law. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Fireweed students get a look at local court system

Fireweed Academy students headed back to their classrooms with a lot more knowledge of their local court system after a field trip to the Homer Courthouse earlier this month.

Organized by Katherine Gustafson, a teacher there, the trip allowed students an up close look as the court’s facilities as well as the opportunity to ask questions about what goes on there. And third through sixth graders took advantage of that rare opportunity.

Some of the questions posed by the curious youngsters during the visit were:

“What if the crime was that somebody blew up the court room?”

“Why does the judge wear that big black dress type thing?”

“How many laws are there?”

Employees of the Homer Court as well as local law enforcement officers were on hand to answer these and many, many more questions. District Court Judge Margaret Murphy took her seat in the larger of the building’s two court rooms to explain her job to the students, saying, “If I recognize you, it’s probably not a good thing.”

She also attempted to clear up several other mysteries for the students. She held up several volumes of both state laws and federal laws in an attempt to show just how many there are.

She also explained, somewhat to the students’ dismay, that she doesn’t use the mallet provided for her at the bench to regain order in the courtroom.

“I have a look that I usually give people,” she said of her way of keeping people in line.

Students were also curious about how many murder trials have happened in Homer, what the various reasons are that could bring someone to court, and whether or not there is a “kid jail.”

While on their trip, students got to look inside both of the building’s court rooms, as well as sit inside the jury deliberation room and the holding cell for defendants.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

Grace Berumen and Madelyn Madrid raise their hands to ask questions during an Oct. 8, 2018 field trip to the Homer Courthouse in Homer, Alaska. They and their fellow Fireweed Academy classmates learned about the law and the inn workings of the courthouse. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Grace Berumen and Madelyn Madrid raise their hands to ask questions during an Oct. 8, 2018 field trip to the Homer Courthouse in Homer, Alaska. They and their fellow Fireweed Academy classmates learned about the law and the inn workings of the courthouse. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Homer District Court Judge Margaret Murphy holds up one of several volumes of laws to show a groups of Fireweed Academy students during their Oct. 8, 2018 field trip to the Homer Courthouse in Homer, Alaska. She showed them the book in response to a student’s question of: “How many law are there?” (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Homer District Court Judge Margaret Murphy holds up one of several volumes of laws to show a groups of Fireweed Academy students during their Oct. 8, 2018 field trip to the Homer Courthouse in Homer, Alaska. She showed them the book in response to a student’s question of: “How many law are there?” (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

More in News

Clem Tillion of Halibut Cove poses for a photo on Jan. 9, 2020, in Homer, Alaska. The veteran Alaska legislator was passing through Homer while waiting to take the M/V Tustumena ferry to Kodiak. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Clem Tillion, PFD founder and former legislator, dies at 96

Tillion died Wedneday, Oct. 13, at Halibut Cove home.

Thunder Mountain High School on April 18.  Earlier this fall, vandalism including stolen soap dispensers and toilets clogged with foreign objects such as paper towel rolls were a problem at schools nationwide and in Juneau. But, principals say the local situation is improving. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
After brief surge, vandalism subsiding at local high schools

Principals say internet trends, stress likely behind incidents.

In this Jan. 8, 2020, photo Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, heads to a briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington. An Alaska man faces federal charges after authorities allege he threatened to hire an assassin to kill Murkowski, according to court documents unsealed Wed., Oct. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite,File)
Delta Junction man faces charges over threatening Murkowski’s life

Authorities allege he threatened to hire an assassin to kill the senator.

Donna Aderhold recites the Homer City Council oath of office and is sworn in for duty at the city council meeting on Oct. 11. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
New council members sworn into duty Monday

Newly-elected Homer City Council members Shelly Erickson and Jason Davis and re-elected… Continue reading

Runners participate in boys varsity race at the Ted McKenney XC Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. The trails recently reported incidents of vandalism and theft. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Vandalism and theft reported at Tsalteshi Trails

One trail user reported stolen skis recently and multiple signs have been defaced.

At left Bonita Banks, RN, Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) nurse at Homer Medical Center, and at right, Annie Garay, RN, Community Health Educator, pose for a photo at South Peninsula Hospital on Sept. 27, 2021, at Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Derotha Ferraro/South Peninsula Hospital)
New hospital community health educator starts

Garay, a Homer raised nurse, came home to ride out COVID-19, wound up doing pandemic nursing.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Montessori school goes to universal indoor masking

As of Tuesday, eight KPBSD schools were operating with universal indoor masking for staff and students.

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Seawatch: Crabbers look at cuts to quotas

Tanner, opilio crab quotas cut on top of cancellation of fall king crab fishery.

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Judge sides with psychiatrists who alleged wrongful firing

Two psychiatrists said they were wrongfully fired when Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy took office.

Most Read