A Firsthand Look at the Legal Process

The+Honorable+Dean+Fink+speaks+to+students+about+the+case+and+his+role+as+a+judge+during+the+lunch+recess.+Students+were+able+to+see+what+they+have+been+learning+about+firsthand+in+the+courtroom.

Kristen Molina

The Honorable Dean Fink speaks to students about the case and his role as a judge during the lunch recess. Students were able to see what they have been learning about firsthand in the courtroom.

Anja Asato, Editor in Chief

The Horizon Honors Law classes had the unique opportunity of watching a trial at the Superior Court of Maricopa County last week. Before the trial, Horizon Honors parent Roger Wood, who was representing the plaintiff in the case, came to speak to students about the facts of the case and possible arguments.

The field trip gave students a clear picture of court proceedings and this case closely paralleled the topics of contracts and injunctions which students are currently learning about in class. “It allows them to see everything that we are talking about in class, and to see how it works in the real world,” shared Law teacher Charles McLaughlin, who arranged the now highly-anticipated annual visit.

Dressed in business attire for the occasion, students filed into the chamber and took their seats, attentive and prepared to take notes on their observations about the arguments presented. The case involved a dispute between two homeowners; one built an RV garage that blocked the mountain views from the neighbor’s home, and that family was seeking an injunction to have the RV garage removed.

“I thought it was a great experience and it was fascinating to see all the terms and procedures we had discussed come to life in a real-world example,” shared junior Sean McElrath.

The experience demonstrated to students the different steps in a trial, from the opening arguments to the cross examination of a witness. “It’s not always how it is in the movies,” laughed McLaughlin. Unlike in the movie “A Few Good Men,” the cross examination that the students sat through was quite lengthy, without any suspense or drama.

The trial was taking more time than the lawyers and judge had anticipated, so students left during the lunch recess. Before their departure, the honorable Dean Fink, the trial judge in the case, took some time to talk to the students about his role as a judge, the case, and answer questions. This was a highlight for many of the students, giving them a glimpse into the mind of a judge along with a peek into the local legal system.

“I think it’s a good experience that’s not only academic. It’s the practical side of law,” said McLaughlin, who hopes that the trip will help students in the future whether they go into a profession in the legal field or not. “Law is everywhere; it’s going to be an important part of their lives.”