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)

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