ROCK SPRINGS – Western Wyoming Community College will partner with the Wyoming Supreme Court, the District and Circuit Court Judges of the Third Judicial District, and the Sweetwater County Bar to host a free two-part course, “You Be The Judge,” at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 4, and Thursday, Feb. 5, in Room 1302 on the Rock Springs campus. There, Wyoming and Sweetwater County judges and attorneys will explain how state laws and the “Rule of Law” impact judicial decision-making.
The sessions will include several mock cases in which arguments and evidence will be presented by local attorneys and participants will decide verdicts via electronic voting. The cases will revolve around such questions as: When can your property be searched? Why are juveniles treated differently than adults when they commit a crime? How is custody decided? Should defendants remain in jail before trial? May citizens be kicked out of their homes?
“This is going to be a two-way street. It isn’t a lecture at all,” said Wyoming Supreme Court Chief Justice E. James Burke, who will participate in the sessions. “We are going to have people come up and be the judge and offer their takes on how they should rule.”
Burke said he hopes that citizens will come to the event with questions and with an interest in learning about the judicial branch of government. The Chief Justice said that he would keep the session schedules fluid to accommodate discussion.
“The hope is to give everyone a better understanding of the system,” Burke explained. “The more we can do to educate and inform people, the better.”
Similar programs were conducted in Cheyenne during 2014 and met with a positive response from attendees, who described the sessions as “informative and helpful” and as contributing to the “transparency of the judicial system.”
Participating in the sessions along with Burke are District Court Judges Nena James and Richard Lavery and Circuit Court Judges John Prokos and Craig Jones. Attorneys from the Sweetwater County Attorney’s Office and Public Defender’s Office, as well as local attorneys in private practice, will also participate. None will speak about active cases.
Each session is a stand-alone event and citizens are encouraged to participate in both evenings, if possible. On Wednesday, Feb. 4, topics discussed will include the Wyoming Court System, Judicial Selection, and the Rule of Law. Mock trial activities will include an oral argument before the Supreme Court relating to the 4th Amendment, which pertains to unreasonable search and seizure, and a Juvenile Court delinquency hearing.
On Thursday, Feb. 5, cases and discussion topics will focus on family law and child custody, bond and pre-trial release, and eviction proceedings.
These sessions are intended to be interactive and educational, and they will offer insight into how judges qualify for the job and how their thought processes work with regard to legal issues.
“You Be The Judge” also features closed daytime sessions that will be provided for high school students at Rock Springs High School and Green River High School. Students will present cases, offer testimony, and render judgments while they learn about the legal system.
Western Wyoming Community College is pleased to partner with the Wyoming Supreme Court, the District and Circuit Court Judges of the Third Judicial District, and the Sweetwater County Bar to present this free two-night event to the citizens of Sweetwater County. Refreshments will be provided.
For more information, contact Christopher Sheid, Marketing and Communication Coordinator for Western Wyoming Community College, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (307) 382-1661.
To view the mock Case Statements and Fact Patterns that will be addressed during this program, view the following pdf files: