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.