A Lesson In Justice For Missoula Second Graders
Second graders from Mrs. Campbell's class at Hawthorne School got to experience what court is like from many different aspects on Friday morning in Missoula Justice Court.
Justice of the Peace Landee Holloway took the students through the process that grown-ups can find very intimidating, that of being a defendant, a witness, a prosecuting or defense attorney or even a juror inside a real courtroom.
"The court represents the judicial branch," Judge Holloway began. " Can somebody tell us what the judicial branch does?" To which one very bright second grader replied, 'All the judges are part of the judicial branch, and at the top of the judicial branch is the Supreme Court.' Holloway said, "You're right, so the judicial branch enforces and upholds the law."
Holloway then pointed out two big-screen TV's in the courtroom.
"They're not here so we can play video games," she said. "Instead of bringing people from jail to the courtroom, we use that wonderful thing called technology. There's a place at the jail where people go in front of a video camera, and then I sit here and talk to them so they don't have to come to the courtroom."
Finally, Judge Holloway invited students to sit at the defense and prosecutor's tables, the clerk's chair, the witness stand and the jury box to get a feel for how the legal process works, and then, she put them all under oath.
"Raise your right hands," she said. "You'e taking an oath and you're swearing, not swearing in a bad way, but swearing that you are going to do something. Are you ready? 'Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?' And then you would say, I do."
And a chorus of second grade voices, along with two reporters, a photographer and a teacher all said in unison.
Judge Holloway said she is happy that so many teachers and school children are getting a close-up, non-threatening look at how Missoula's judicial system works, so that when they grow up, they'll understand the serious nature of the law.