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Law Day puts students in court

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP – Managing Editor
Escambia County students got their day in court this week as they served as jurors for two separate trials and learned firsthand how the court system works.
Seniors at T.R. Miller and W.S. Neal high schools spent most of Thursday at the Escambia County Courthouse. While they all listened to evidence pertaining to a local DUI case, 14 sat in as jurors and decided upon a verdict.
After listening to Assistant District Attorney Steve Billy present the state's case and hearing from the defendant's attorney, Ernie White, the 14 students returned with a verdict of not guilty.
Despite the outcome, District Attorney Mike Godwin said he felt the students did a good job as jurors.
Steve Lambert, government and economics teacher at T.R. Miller, said he felt the experience of participating in an actual court case helps the students see how real courtrooms operate.
Preparations for Law Day began with an earlier visit to the schools by Circuit Judge Brad Byrne. Byrne presided over the DUI case heard by the students.
In addition to hearing both sides of the case and rendering a verdict, the students also met with some of the county's and state's leaders in the justice system.
Escambia County Bar president Edward T. Hines opened the day, introducing the program and local attorneys.
The also heard from Alabama Supreme Court Associate Justice Champ Lyons Jr.
County seniors from Flomaton, Escambia County High School and Escambia Academy heard a separate case on Friday when they found a defendant guilty of escape.
The case was presided over by Circuit Judge Joseph Brogden.
Escambia County native and Alabama Supreme Court Associate Justice Lyn Stuart was also there to greet the students.