As I mentioned in this post, today we had the Real DUI Court in Schools presentation. I was impressed, much more so than I've been with the Every 15 Minutes program.
As was stated in my previous post, it was a real judge with a real defendant with a real case and a real punishment. In other words, instead of taking our students downtown to the courthouse, the courthouse came to us.
It started with a 5-10 minute long video, a blood-and-guts dramatization of what happens in car accidents. It was shocking enough to get everyone's attention. Then a 24-year-old told his story of his grad night partying, and how he wrapped his car around an oak tree and killed his best friend. After him, the bailiff had everyone rise and the judge entered and off to the races we went. A young woman (21?) was the defendant, and she waived her right to trial and pleaded no contest, which the judge informed her would be treated as admitting guilt. With all establishment of facts out of the way, the judge pronounced sentence, right there in front of all of us. For a first time offender, there was 48 hrs in jail (the woman was taken away in handcuffs), a bunch of parole, requirement to attend DUI classes and pay for them, and thousands of dollars in a laundry list of fines, penalties, and fees--and this did not include her attorneys fees, the cost to get her car out of the impound lot, the increased cost of her insurance, etc. She did not lose her license. She did, however, address the students and told them how stupid she felt, how shamed she was, and how she'd affected not only herself but her friends and family. After she was escorted out, the judge addressed the students and had a Q and A session. I left shortly after the judge began speaking.
It was real, and that was important. I'd have liked for the young man's testimonial to have been shorter, and for the actual court case to have been longer--the judge seemed like she was speed-reading her way through it. Other than that, it was well done. Made for several good conversations throughout the rest of the day.
The defense attorney was the father of one of my students. I sent her home with a couple questions for her dad; if I get answers and remember to do so, I'll update this post on Monday with that additional information.