Fairfield students get their day in court

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Twenty-six Fairfield Ludlowe High School students recently received a first-hand look at the judicial system with a tour of the Bridgeport Courthouse. The students are shown here with teacher Diana Rainho, attorney Gregory Williams and teacher Thomas Reindel.

Twenty-six students from Fairfield Ludlowe High School received a first-hand look at the judicial system with a tour of the Bridgeport Courthouse on Oct. 22.

The tour is part of the Connecticut Bar Association’s Connecticut Court Visitation Program, which allows students in seventh through 12th grades to visit a courtroom and witness real-life criminal court proceedings. The goal of the program is to acquaint students with the basic steps used in both civil and criminal court procedures and to demonstrate to them the responsibilities of citizens in the American legal system.

FLHS teachers Thomas Reindel and Diana Rainho accompanied the students, who are currently in a business and personal law class, to the courthouse. The objective for the trip was to provide first-hand knowledge of the functions of the legal system in order to demonstrate what the students have learned about in class. The tour was guided by Bridgeport attorney and Connecticut Bar Association member attorney Gregory Williams, who also answered questions throughout the course of the tour.

The students were able to interact with many people and witness a variety of proceedings during their trip to the courthouse from the coordination of court staff to security measures. Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Corradino explained his role prosecuting cases and public defender Joseph Bruckmann discussed the importance of representing his clients Both attorneys also gave a historical overview of their respective departments.

In addition, the students were able to observe a criminal arraignment session with Judge Robert J. Devlin Jr., after which they watched jury selection with Judge John F. Blawie. Lastly, the students visited the law library, where librarian Mary Ann Krivicky stressed the importance and accessibility of legal resources.

After the courthouse visit, one of the students said that “more than any other field trip I have taken, I saw the connection between topics we were learning in class and in the courtroom. I finally understand what ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ means.”

“Since its inception in 1980, the Connecticut Court Visitation Program has become a standard part of the curriculum in many schools in the state and more than 84,000 students from public and private middle schools and high schools throughout the state have participated in the program,” said Superior Court Judge Seymour L. Hendel, chair of the Court Visitation Program.

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