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Wisconsin, Senators, & You:
When Teachers Fought Back

Teachers Fight For Their Rights
Meanwhile: Senators on the Run…
because they didn’t want to go to work?!


Protesters including teachers and police officers swell the halls of
the Wisconsin State Capitol building in a 2011 multi-day protest.

One of the largest protest movements of the 2000’s occurred  in February 2011 in the state of Wisconsin, and that movement led to some pretty interesting stories including the one you’re going to learn about in this piece: When the state’s democratic senators went on the run from the law… and their own state’s police!  That story actually begins in 1959 (don’t worry it’s not too deep a history lesson)…

Basically, in 1959 Wisconsin was the first state in the US to allow public employees (people that are paid for their jobs with money from the state government) to ‘collectively bargain’ – that means they could team up and talk about how much they’d get paid as a group, rather than asking for raises or healthcare from their managers as individuals representing themselves.  Ok, now let’s fast-forward to 2008 (yes, it’s still a few years before 2011 , but once again it’s not all that much historical backstory that you’ll need)….

In America during the fall of 2008 , two notable things happened: America elected Barack Obama…and it did it just as the economy was beginning to collapse – an event that would lead to a roughly decade-long period that would come to be known as The Great Recession.  That time period was extremely economically challenging for nearly everyone, including government agencies: they had made financial commitments to their employees, but by 2010 they would be running out of money to maintain those commitments because of how the investments they had made were failing.

Ok, so that brings us to Wisconsin in February of 2011.  At the time, the state was dealing with some massive budget issues: Without any changes being made, the state government would have more than $1.2 Billion-with-a-B in expenses over several years that it would not have money to pay for.  In fact, projections from the office of newly-elected-at-the-time Governor Scott Walker suggested the state would run out of money and be in debt by $137 Million-with-an-M by June of that year!

With just over a month in office, the governor (a republican – which is important to the event) – proposed taking away the government employees’ rights to collectively bargain and insisted that those employees would have to begin receiving less compensation (payment in the form of cash or benefits like health care or retirement savings) immediately.   He also said that if his proposal wasn’t approved, thousands of state workers would be fired because there wasn’t enough money to pay them  (not because they weren’t good at their jobs).  Protests and demonstrations began at the Wisconsin Capitol Building on February 14, 2011 – just as Governor Walker submitted his budget proposal for a vote… By February 20th, 2011 the protests had blown up into a full-blown 24-hours-7-days-a-week occupation!  That though.. that is a story for another time.

What concerns this conversation are the events that took place shortly after the occupation began, around February 15:  The Wisconsin State Senate had 19 Republicans that supported the Governor’s  budget proposal, and 14 Democrats that were completely against it.  The Democrats knew they would lose a vote, so they had a better idea: Wisconsin state law did not allow for votes to be held unless 20 state senators were present.  Rather than participate in a vote on an issue that deeply concerned them which they knew they would lose, the state senators fled to Illinois!  They remained on the run for weeks until March 12, when they finally returned after their absence caused the Republican majority to carve-out the cancellation of collective bargaining rights from the budget proposal.  Though the senators couldn’t have been charged with a crime, the state police would have had the right to arrest and detain the senators until the vote had initially taken place.

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Questions:

1) Why do you agree or disagree with the cause?

2) Why do you agree or disagree with the action?

3) Why do you agree or disagree with the punishment / consequences?

4) What cause – if any – would make you want to knowingly break the law, and why?

5) What are some better courses of action you can think of besides breaking the law in support of a cause you care about, or if you feel there aren’t any, what obstacles would prevent your from engaging in lawful resistance?


Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-wisconsin-democrats/wisconsin-police-sent-to-search-for-democratic-senators-idUSTRE71N30W20110224

Contributed By:  -M. Kamer

Freedom for Furry Critters Comes At the
Cost of Convictions for Animal Activists

Mink are tiny little rodent creatures that people murder so they can make clothing out of them.

In October 1997, a roughly-estimated 3,000 mink (tiny rodent creatures with fur that is used for high-end fashion) escaped from a mink ranch.  They survived their fate as future fur coats thanks to a 20-foot hole cut in one of the mink-proofed fences around the ranch.  The mink didn’t run through that hole though – their liberator, a man named  Peter Daniel Young – used it to get to the gates that held the mink in pens.  He then opened the gates, freeing the mink to run amok… and to freedom.

Part-owner in the ranch Kelly Turbak explained “We don’t know how many will die, maybe as many as 1,000…  Generally they’ll stay pretty close around. They’re domesticated and can’t fend for themselves.”.  Less than 24 hours later, more than 1,000 of the furry escapees had been recaptured and once again destined to die on the path to becoming fur coats rather than starving to death outside of the ranch.

A few weeks later, Peter and his co-conspirator Justin Samuel had their car impounded while driving between other farms they were hoping to ‘raid’ (break into and free the animals from).  They had been pulled over after their car was called in by other suspicious mink farmers in the area, who had been on high alert.

Eventually in September of 1998, charges would be filed against both Peter Daniel Young and Justin Samuel… but just like the mink they freed, the two of them went on the run….for years!  In fact, Peter Young wouldn’t be captured until 2005.  After being captured, he was sentenced to serve two years in federal prison, more than $254,000 in fines, and 360 hours of community service benefiting  – as the judge said at the time of sentencing- “humans and no other species.”

The trouble wasn’t over for Young even by late 2007 when he was released.  Since the act of releasing all the mink racked up a number of state crimes, Young was also faced with a number of state charges before his own ordeal was over including third degree burglary, intentional damage to property and animal enterprise trespass!


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Questions:

1. Why do you agree or disagree with the cause?

2. Why do you agree or disagree with the action?

3. Why do you agree or disagree with the punishment / consequences?

4. What cause – if any – would make you want to knowingly break the law, and why?

5. What are some better courses of action you can think of besides breaking the law in support of a cause you care about, or if you feel there aren’t any, what obstacles would prevent your from engaging in lawful resistance?


Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:

https://siouxcityjournal.com/news/state-and-regional/state-charges-filed-for-raid-on-mink-farm/article_77722678-bdaa-5f19-9cdd-1027ed21bd58.html

https://www.nytimes.com/1997/10/19/us/national-news-briefs-mink-escape-from-pen-after-fence-is-cut.html

https://globegazette.com/news/local/iowa-s-history-with-animal-rights-activists-goes-back-many/article_eab92b0a-144b-11e3-afff-0019bb2963f4.html


Contributed By:  -M. Kamer

Law Firm Claims Rival Sucked Up Business
By Copying And Hijacking Their Website

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We are taught not to copy a person’s work since it can get us in trouble. According to an article by Above The Law, a law firm is suiting another firm on the basis of copying and hijacking their website.

In Illinois, Motta & Motta is suing Dolci & Weiland over the alleged hijacking and plagiarism. The suit claims that Dolci capitalized on Motta’s reputation by using website hashtags and headers to mislead search engines into believing Motta’s website is Dolci’s website. According to the suit allegations, Dolci & Weiland’s website mirrored Motta’s copyrighted design and content and even copied (verbatim) articles and blogs on Motta’s website.

In school, we are taught many basic principles such as reading, writing, mathematics, but we also introduced into many ethical values as well, such as responsibility, quality, leadership, respect, and honesty. One way these ethical values are exercised is through integrity and not committing plagiarism. This article brings up some interesting points relating to privacy, defamation, and fraud and how Dolci’s law firm was acting unlawfully. Instead of Dolci taking the time to create their website and content, they are now facing a lengthy legal process that is going to cost them a lot of money!

 

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Questions:

1) In what situations is it against the law to impersonate someone online?

2) When would impersonating a person online be a form of fraud, or why would it not be a fraud? 

3) The law firm that claimed to be victimized specifically mentioned hashtags in their complaint.  Hashtags are basically hyperlinks: text that results in being connected to related information.  If the law firm sued only over the plagiarism of the hashtags on their website, why do you think they would or would not have a good chance of winning their case in court?  Be specific by using other lawsuits or trademark and copyright news articles as examples when creating your response.*  

*Hint #1: Are companies guaranteed websites with their names?

*Hint #2: What are some examples of trademarks, copyrights, and the differences between the two?


Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here
:

https://abovethelaw.com/2018/08/law-firm-claims-rival-sucked-up-business-by-copying-and-hijacking-their-website/

Contributed by – J. Pennington

Man Drags Unconscious Passenger Off
Blue Line Train in Long Beach, CA:
Witness Said He Wanted to Avoid Delay

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On August 3rd of 2018, a video surfaced from California as a man in a suit drags an unconscious man off the train to avoid delay.

Controversial as this incident may be, the video depicts a white male in a suit dragging an unconscious black man. During the incident, the white male was recorded by a passenger on the train. The passenger explained how the unconscious man was wearing a medical bracelet, had metal staples in his skull, and threw up before going unconscious. In the video, onlookers expressed their anger towards the man in the suit by saying he had no right to assume he was partying, per an eyewitness. As an act of retaliation towards the man in the suit, the passengers held the train doors open, to prevent the train from leaving while they phoned the paramedics.

Once paramedics and officers arrived on the scene, the unconscious man was taken to the hospital, but the man in the suit was not investigated or a point of interest in this case. The video of this incident was posted on Youtube and gained momentum by its audience and local news stations. This is still an ongoing investigation.


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Questions:
1. Just because someone broke a law, that doesn’t mean they’ll always be prosecuted for it, so was it lawful for the man in the suit to drag the unconscious man to train platform, and would it lawful for him to leave the man behind?

2. In this case, the man in the suit will not be charged with this act, explain why you agree or disagree with this decision.

3. ‘Duty to rescue’ laws require people to help others if they witness someone in trouble and are able to help without endangering themselves.  Are there ‘duty to rescue’ or similar laws where you live, and do you agree with your community having or not having them? 


Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:

https://lbpost.com/news/crime/video-man-drags-unconscious-passenger-off-blue-train-train-in-long-beach-to-avoid-delay/

Contributed by – J. Pennington

U.S. Lawmakers Seek to Criminalize
Boycott Campaign Against Israel

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Within the last year, there has been a rise in political speech and activism towards many momentous events, such as North Korean conflict, same-sex marriage, to Twitter going beyond 140 characters! In relation to this article, a group of senators wants to implement a law that would make it a felony for Americans to support the boycott against Israel, resulting in a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.

Why is there a boycott on Israel and why is it becoming an international movement?

According to a Time article, the boycott movement was started by the Israelis-Zionist (a person who believes in the development and protection of a Jewish nation, Israel) liberals who support Israel’s existence on land it won in the 1948 war, but with Israel’s occupation in Palestinian territory in 1967, the Israelis wanted to boycott goods produced by Israeli companies (that operate on Palestinian land). Over time, this situation gained different opinions from other countries. Some felt sympathetic towards the Palestinians while others were in favor of Israel.

For more information regarding the history of the Boycott campaign, click here!

Which leads us to the boycott movement today. Around the world, people are expressing their avoidance of Israel and are getting punished for it. For instance, in France, activists have been arrested and prosecuted for wearing T-shirts advocating a boycott of Israel. In the U.K., has enacted a series of measures designed to outlaw such activism. Leading into the United States, U.S. governors are trying to impose strict regulations of any boycotts aimed even at Israeli settlements. In July 2017, a group of senators wants to implement a law that would make it a felony for Americans to support the international boycott against Israel. But, people have questioned that penalizing boycotting may infringe upon the first amendment’s freedom of speech and protest.

 

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Questions:

1) How does this violate or how does this not violate the right to freedom of speech granted by the First Amendment?

2) How does this violate or how does this not violate the right to freedom of speech granted by the First Amendment?

3) Why do you think boycotting as a form of activism should or should not be a felony offense?

4) Some critics of the attempted boycott ban argued that this type of ban would not be attempted if it was any other nation allied with the United States, and that Jewish and Christian lawmakers have suggested the ban because of religious beliefs rather than out of national security concerns.  Remember: the First Amendment suggests there should be some separation of church and state, but how that separation should look has led to many legal battles throughout American history.

With those observations in mind Why do you feel that it is acceptable or unacceptable for lawmakers to make decisions based on their own personal beliefs when serving in government, and

5) How are your feelings (as explained in response to Question 4) supported or not supported by the wording of the First Amendment,  and what precedent-setting legal decisions support your response?

 

Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:

 https://theintercept.com/2017/07/19/u-s-lawmakers-seek-to-criminally-outlaw-support-for-boycott-campaign-against-israel/

 

Contributed by – J. Pennington

A Montana Prosecutor Wants to Jail
Moms-To-Be Who Drink or Do Drugs

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On January 24th, 2018, the prosecutor’s office in Big Horn County, Montana is cracking down on any expectant mothers who use drugs or drink alcohol. A court attorney is fighting to seek restraining orders against those pregnant women and is encouraging the public to report drug or alcohol incidents to the sheriff department.

The reason behind this movement is to limit child abuse during labor and to make the mother accountable for her actions. According to the article, roughly half of all U.S. states now consider substance abuse during pregnancy to be child abuse. One way it is child abuse is a birth defect called ‘sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).’

On the flip side, if the government intervenes on the well-being of a mother and her baby, it will cause a slippery slope that will jeopardize with the well-being of the mother and the fetus. Another aspect is that a woman will refuse to seek help if they feel they will be reprimanded for their outreach, which causes a discrepancy within the health provider’s field.

When it comes to the aspect of law and justice, many roles are filled by police officers, prosecutors, and judges. Police officers are tasked to patrol certain areas and stop, and or prevent crime from happening. If there is probable cause or reasonable articulable suspicion, the officer has a right to issue a stop and act accordingly per state laws and policies. As for Prosecutors, if a person is charged with a crime, the prosecutor reviews all of the evidence that is presented within a case. Lastly, for the judge evaluates all of the aspects of the case and pleads the defendant guilty or not guilty.


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Questions:

1. Why do you think it is or is not ethical to prosecute expected mothers who use drugs or alcohol?

2. How is the mother hurting the unborn child while using drugs or alcohol?

3. Do you think the judge’s policy will help reduce the number of cases of SIDS in the community, have no impact on the number of cases, or cause an increase in the number of cases, and why do you think the policy will have that effect? 

4. Why do you feel the judge’s plan is the best one for the community, or what better solutions would you recommend and why would you recommend those over the one the judge has come up with?

Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:

https://projects.propublica.org/graphics/maternity-drug-policies-by-state

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/pregnant-women-big-horn-county-montana_n_5a674bf8e4b0e5630073b88c?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Contributed by – J. Pennington

Real Heroes Don’t Always Wear Capes: #BlackPantherChallenge

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Finally kids can see a movie where the main superhero looks like them (without having to sneak into an R-rated vampire flick or sitting through a Razzie-winning Catwoman). People are so excited, that over 100 GoFundMe pages have been created to send young children (primarily of color) from low income families to see Marvel’s Black Panther…

These movie-ticket drives are happening across the nation in droves.

GoFundMe accounts have multiplied into the hundreds with politicians, entertainers and the director of the Black Panther movie contributing.

The original drive was originated by New Yorker Frederick Joseph, who found that that the feature film Wonder Woman empowered girls, thought the Black Panther movie would do the same for students primarily of color. He started the original #BlackPantherChallenge early last month and so far has raised $430k to send over 30,000 children to the movie.

Cities supporting the GoFundMe drives for the #BlackPantherChallenge range from Detroit, Michigan to San Diego, California.

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Questions:

1) Wonder Woman empowered young women when it was released, and it had been a long time since there was such a successful superhero movie featuring a lead female superhero.  Given those conditions, why weren’t there similar fundraisers to take young women to see Wonder Woman? 

2) How do superheroes (or just other really generous and community-minded people) inspire you to do things like organize a trip to the theater for a large group of children?

3)  Are the many #BlackPantherChallenge campaigns inspiring you to do something to improve your community? If they are, tell us what you plan to do!  

Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:

https://www.today.com/parents/man-wants-send-kids-black-panther-great-reason-t121104

Is a $50 Traffic Ticket Worth
Losing your Independence Over?

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Angry because of a ticket resulting from a minor traffic infraction, a Maryland man, Eugene Matusevich, began relentlessly harassing the officer who wrote the ticket through texts, social media and more. These texts ranged from jokes about donut runs to sensitive personal details. How did he obtain this information?

A friend of his.

Zak Nicholas Thompson, who worked at a financial services company, had access to the officer’s name, phone number, home address, Social Security number, his financial information (including salary information)…even the make and model of the officer’s personal vehicle. He took that information and gave it to Matusevich.

The officer quickly became deluged with texts and phone calls soliciting offers from companies, including a drug rehabilitation center. Insulting messages about the officer were also posted to his family’s Facebook accounts along with demeaning messages about the neighborhood he lived in, and even the type of car he drove.

At one point, he received 17 texts in less than an hour from Matusevich.

Thompson’s lawyer explained his client’s intent wasn’t to aide Matusevich in a full blown harassment campaign of a law enforcement officer.  The lawyer implied that Thompson thought the information would only be used for an angry message or two by his friend.

 

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Questions:

1) The lawyer stated that this was not the case, but do you think that Thompson knew what he was doing when he provided his friend the police officer’s personal details and contact information?

2) Why do you think Thompson either realized or didn’t realize that by giving this information to his friend that he would be held responsible, even though he never contacted the officer?

Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/the-case-of-taunting-texts-sent-to-a-cop–you-there-fatboy–snares-alleged-accomplice/2018/02/05/8db00810-0ab5-11e8-95a5-c396801049ef_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-cards_hp-card-local%3Ahomepage%2Fcard

 

Volunteers Feed The Homeless,
Get Arrested By Police

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On January 14th of 2018, 12 people from a volunteer group were arrested for handing out food to the homeless.

To provide some backstory to this situation, a community group called “Break The Ban” were distributing food and other items to the homeless population at a park in California. According to the police officers that arrived, they were violating a ban on sharing food in city-owned public areas, which was recently passed by the City of El Cajon in 2017. The reason for this ban was to stop the spread of Hepatitis A. the police cited some of the volunteers to jail but did not take them. But, for the two volunteers they arrested are scheduled to appear in court. The group was outraged by the act and is planning to fight the citations and the food-sharing ban.

There was another case in which this incident has occurred. According to Forbes, in Fort Lauderdale, police arrested a 90-year old man and two ministers in 2014 for trying to share their food with the homeless. In October of 2014, the city enacted an ordinance that bans sharing food in public parks, unless they have a permit from the city. As a result of this situation, the organization arrested (Food Not Bombs) sued the city of Fort Lauderdale on the basis of the ordinance violated their right to free speech and free association, and the ordinance was “unconstitutionally vague.” At first, a federal district court dismissed the case since food sharing events were outside the scope of the First Amendment since it did not convey a “particularized message.”

But, under that line of reasoning, that sounds like the First Amendment is confined to expressions conveying a particularized message. So, as a result, the case was ruled that Food Not Bombs does have a First Amendment right to share food. The case was sent back down to the lower courts to determine if the city’s ordinance was in violation of those rights. The city of Lauderdale has not responded to the request yet.


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Questions:

1) How does the First Amendment apply to these news stories?

2) Why do you feel the ordinance being issued to prevent the spread of Hepatitis A was or was not justified? 

3) Are there laws in your community restricting feeding the homeless, if so what are they, how do you feel about there being or not being laws about this activity in your community, and what can you do to support/change those local laws/policies?

4) (High School Students only) Even if you disagree with the policy in this case, imagine that there are some activities that people volunteer for or donate to that are meant to ‘make the world a better place’, but which should be managed or limited by local laws. How should local governments and law makers decide if an activity requires them to get involved in those activities (ex: Should sheltering homeless animals and feeding the homeless face the same kinds of restriction)?

 

Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/homeless-el-cajon-california-arrests_us_5a5de4f4e4b0fcbc3a1355f4?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

And / or

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicksibilla/2018/08/27/federal-court-first-amendment-protects-sharing-food-with-homeless-people/#fe8283b4884

 

Contributed by – J. Pennington

Giving Back With
A Global Giraffe Game!

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Giraffe populations have dropped dramatically in the past twenty years, in fact in Northern Kenya the population has dropped by over 70% in the past two decades. Researchers have been working at finding a solution to decrease the rapid rate that giraffes are decreasing in population size. The road to that starts with observing the giraffes.

The status of the giraffe population has placed them on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Vulnerable and on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Poaching, habitat loss and disease has made them extinct in seven African nations. For a species that once had over 160,000 in 1985, there are less than 100,000 remaining. In the sub-Saharan desert, the extinction of the giraffe has gone largely unnoticed.

This is where you come in.

The researchers have set up an online site where users actively stream the footage and help the researchers make observations. This is a great way to make a global impact without having to leave the comfort of your own home. The crowd sourcing project invites the public to help organize the data, which is vital to the success of the conservation projects.

Those projects also provide people to actively engage in the protection of endangered species. More than 1 million images from the motion-activated camera in Kenya have assisted the researchers in cataloging each image and identifying and counting the animals caught on camera.

“Community conservancies are where we are seeing strong signs of hope with increasing giraffe population numbers and we are working hard to support those conservancies”, said David O’Connor, researcher and conservation ecologist for the San Diego Zoo.

You can play the game and spend some time saving giraffes here:
https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/sandiegozooglobal/wildwatch-kenya/classify

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Questions:

1) This volunteer opportunity is one that can be fun and really convenient at the same time.  Now it’s your turn: Come up with your own idea for a unique way to make the world a better place like this one! What is your idea, and how would it work ?

2) If you have already heard of other opportunities like this one – something fun and easy that helps make a big difference, what was it and what about it seems fun to you?   If you haven’t heard of other  ‘fun’ volunteer options, go searching online for ‘fun easy volunteering’ opportunities, and then report back: What is one opportunity you found that you would be willing to do, and what makes it so appealing to you ?

Original Source:
http://zoonooz.sandiegozoo.org/2017/06/20/san-




Thank you for letting us experience court for the first time.  It was the best experience ever, thank you for everything. You really made me think about being a judge. Thank you


-Mina L [ Twitchell Elementary - Grade 5]

Project Real
2020-12-16T22:04:09+00:00
Thank you for letting us experience court for the first time.  It was the best experience ever, thank you for everything. You really made me think about being a judge. Thank you -Mina L [ Twitchell Elementary - Grade 5]

Thank you for letting us watch the civil case!  It was cool because it was a real case and not one played out. I had a lot of fun watching the other kids act out a session.  Thank you for your time.

- Kaylie [Hewetson Elementary - Grade 5]

Project Real
2020-12-11T20:39:35+00:00
Thank you for letting us watch the civil case!  It was cool because it was a real case and not one played out. I had a lot of fun watching the other kids act out a session.  Thank you for your time. - Kaylie [Hewetson Elementary - Grade 5]

My favorite part of the fieldtrip to the courthouse is when I got to play the part of Ron. I got to go on the witness chair and speaking. I helped Potter to be not guilty. Thank you for the great opportunity.


- Johnathan M  [Harmon Elementary - Grade 4]
Project Real
2020-12-16T21:47:04+00:00
My favorite part of the fieldtrip to the courthouse is when I got to play the part of Ron. I got to go on the witness chair and speaking. I helped Potter to be not guilty. Thank you for the great opportunity. - Johnathan M  [Harmon Elementary - Grade 4]
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