North County Students Take a Peek at the Vista Courthouse

On March 8, 2013, over 900 North County students had the opportunity to take a peek into the courthouse located in Vista, as part of San Diego Superior Court’s 12th annual “Youth in Court Day.” The event was organized by the North County Bar Association, North County Lawyer Referral Service, and Vista Superior Court judges and staff members. This interactive experience is part of the North County Bar Association’s civic outreach program. Students from elementary and junior high school classes attended the Youth in Court morning session and high school students joined the afternoon session.

The experience allowed students to see first-hand how the justice system operates on a daily basis. It attracts students to learning about the court system itself as well as encouraging them to think about jobs in criminal justice. Student participants were given access to an actual court room where they had the chance to interact with judges and attorneys while conducting a planned mock trial. Students played all roles, including defendant, juror, and witness.

According to Pettit Kohn Ingrassia & Lutz attorney Christine Mueller, Vice President and Board Member of the North County Bar Association, approximately 40-50 attorneys volunteered for the day to serve as presenters, guides and “mock trial coaches” for the students. Other volunteers included judges and law enforcement officers who presented educational workshops for high school students.

“A lot of it is unknown, so it’s a scary place for them to be, especially the younger kids,” Christine said. “I notice as they get engaged in the program throughout the day, they are very excited. It ends up being a positive experience for them.”