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Posted: 05/08/13

Honorable Judge LeDuc and some of his staff held an actual court session in the Romeo High School auditorium. About 300 students were able to watch the court proceedings during their 3rd and 4th hour classes on Wednesday, May 1.

(Observer photo by Debi Martone)

Court cases hit close to
'home' for area students

Observer Special Writer
      Court was in session on Wednesday, May 1 but it wasn't held at the usual 42nd District location.
       Instead, the defendants, attorneys, court staff and Judge Denis LeDuc were in court, so to speak, in the Romeo High School (RHS) auditorium.
       RHS students were given a firsthand look at a typical, but real, morning court session as about 30 defendants went before Judge LeDuc for situations such as arraignments, pre-trial conference, probation violation and sentencing.
       "We have a typical docket this morning," Judge LeDuc said. "We haven't doctored it all to reflect things we thought the kids should see."
       However, the morning docket happened to have about 2/3 young defendants, Judge LeDuc said, which he thought was good for the students to observe.
       "So many young people are unaware of the long-term consequences of their actions today," he said. "They are at a time in their life where they are looking at their future education and plans. What happens in court stays on their record in Lansing. That information has to be reported on all of their financial aid forms and job applications, now and in the future."
       RHS has been hosting the district court for about 14 years, but this year the event happened to fall on Law Day, which Judge LeDuc said was worth noting to the students.
       "This day is especially important to all of us in law," he said. "But it is also an important day for the citizens of our country to celebrate and commemorate our country of laws. We have a public courtroom in a public building. Our laws are not determined by our military. Our courts are held in an open manner and are not secretive like it is in many other countries."
       After a short question and answer period between the students and Judge LeDuc, the students witnessed numerous cases, including that of two younger men, who were transported from the Macomb County Jail and being arraigned for trespassing and another gentleman who drove away from the scene of an accident.
       The most eye-opening, however, was a case involving a young man who appeared before the judge clearly intoxicated.
       "At first we all thought it was kind of funny," said senior Jaimie Mazur. "But then the judge said he was going to jail and the sheriffs handcuffed him and had to literally carry him to the police car. Then it became very real and all of the students took it a lot more seriously."
       For senior Jenna Belanger, a case involving a woman who was 5 months pregnant will have a lasting impact.
       "I felt bad for her kids, but I didn't feel bad for her," said Belanger. "I mean, what is going to happen to her baby? She obviously wasn't thinking of her kids when she got in trouble."
       Assistant Principal Dan Stevens said that although holding a session at the high school is a difficult logistical task for the court, he is happy the school has been able to continue to host it for the students.
       "Many of the Social Studies teachers will break down the session the next day in class," he said. "They will use it as a springboard to talk about the judicial process."
       Volunteers from the Northwest Macomb Prevention Coalition were also on hand to assist with the session.

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