Ponderosa High School students caught a glimpse inside local court cases heard by three judges from the Colorado Court of Appeals when the court visited the school Oct. 2. Ponderosa hosted Colorado …
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Ponderosa High School students caught a glimpse inside local court cases heard by three judges from the Colorado Court of Appeals when the court visited the school Oct. 2.
Ponderosa hosted Colorado appellate judges and attorneys representing the plaintiffs and defendants for two court hearings of local significance. The event was part of Courts in the Community, a day dedicated to educating students about the trial process. A crowd of 200 students and community members listened to each side give their argument. Afterward, students asked the attorneys questions about their law careers and advice for becoming a lawyer.
Sophomore Jackson Engels said he learned a lot about the process and, he mentioned lightheartedly, you had to stand up when the judges enter or leave the “chambers” — which in this case was the Ponderosa auditorium.
“I've been looking forward to this for a while. I've never actually been in a real courtroom before,” Engels said.
Judges John Daniel Dailey, Jaclyn K.C. Brown and David J. Richman, from the Colorado Court of Appeals, heard a civil and criminal case, in front of a crowd of high school students and some community members.
The nature of the first case, Ironstone Condominiums v. Town of Parker, was a dispute between what is defined as a “public road” versus a “private drive.” The Parker Planning Commission had approved an apartment development in Stroh Ranch from Dominium, a developer. Dominium wanted to use Ironstone Way for access to the new development. Ironstone Way currently serves members of the Ironstone Condominiums. The planning commission approved this use. Members of the Ironstone Condominiums HOA requested the decision be reviewed, citing concerns of high traffic volume and parking concerns along Ironstone Way, which connects J. Morgan Boulevard with Stroh Ranch Court.
“I live in this area. I think the outcome of these cases is important to me,” Engels said. “The building in the area might affect home prices.”
The second case involved a man, Jessie Medina Jr., who was convicted of felony drug possession charges and argued he was unfairly tried. Medina overdosed on pills and was charged with possession of methamphetamine when hospital staff discovered meth in his pocket as he was being treated. Medina argued he was immune from prosecution because he had reported he overdosed.
Judges will likely issue opinions on each case within a few weeks of the hearing, according to a Douglas County School District spokesperson.
Junior Noelle Lopez is a member of the school's mock trial club and is taking AP U.S. history. Students were able to read the facts of the case and the arguments from both sides and research both cases prior to attending the hearings to form their own collective opinion on the cases.
Lopez said that even though she did her best to learn as much about the cases beforehand, some points in the trial were difficult to follow along once attorneys began introducing different municipal code and ordinance numbers to support their case.
“I was a little lost at some points,” Lopez conceded, “but it was pretty cool.”
Lopez said she doesn't want to study law when she graduates and wants to become a nurse. Mock trial helps her with her communication skills, she said. She hopes to be an attorney this year for the mock trial club.
From the hearings Oct. 2, Lopez said she learned more about what to do during a case.
“Doing mock trial helped with my communication skills, but I think it's a great club to take away from,” Lopez said. "It shows you have to think quick on your feet, especially with the responses from the judges — it was interesting to see.”
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