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Visit to the Court - 9th graders and their teachers Dr. Lother and Dr. Heep

Sic semper tyrannis. “Thus I always bring death to tyrants.”

On Monday, the 20th of June 2016, the 9th grade was able to discover the true meaning and people behind these words at the Fairfax Circuit Court. The now-retired Chief Judge, Dennis Smith, at the Circuit Court showed the students around the different areas of a court including the Fairfax legal library, where the public is able to research their case and can also be referred to an affordable lawyer; the jury assembly room, where the jury for a trial resides after a case or during breaks in the trial; as well as an actual court room, including the largest in the building.

Once we were in the court room we were told about the new legal technology which includes document cameras, monitors for all the participants and translation headsets. He also hinted that holographic images could be in the future of legal testimonies. While we were in the jury assembly room, one of the main questions was how the relationship between the judge and the jury varied from case to case. As an example Mr. Smith told us that a couple of years ago if you were in court due to a drug offense or sex offense appeal, you would not want to have a jury because the jury was most likely going to suggest a heavier sentence than the judge. However, nowadays for these types of cases you would want to have a jury because the judge is more likely to proclaim a more severe sentence.

Then, to round-off our first experience at a circuit court, we were able to sit in on the beginning of a damage case. Sadly we had to leave after the Voir Dire but we were able to get a first taste of the atmosphere of a real trial.

The students of the ninth grade want to thank the Fairfax Circuit Court and most importantly our amazing expert for letting us visit their site and helping us gain a first insight into the legal field.

Quite a few of the students have now been inspired to perhaps pursue a career or study in the legal field due to this visit.

Katarina K.

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