Student juries hand down verdicts
Published 8:53 pm Monday, May 8, 2006
By By Mary-Allison Lancaster – Managing Editor
It's something most high school students aren't accustomed to and something most people wouldn't see in a courtroom everyday - students sitting in a jury box and handing down a verdict of guilty or not guilty.
High school seniors from five schools throughout Escambia County were given the opportunity to take part Thursday and Friday in a unique Law Day program - he only one of its kind in the nation.
The program, sponsored by the Escambia County Bar Association, began nearly 30 years ago, and was the brainchild of trial lawyer Jim Hart.
Law Day, which has been recognized as the best in the state and the nation, allows seniors to participate in the trial of actual court cases in the Circuit Court.
Students are chosen at random and placed in the jury box and listen to official prosecutions defended by persons who are actually charged with the offenses tried.
On Thursday, seniors from Flomaton High School, Escambia Academy and Escambia County High School deliberated for nearly 15 minutes and acquitted Michael Andrew Sansom of misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol charges.
On Friday, seniors from T.R. Miller and W.S. Neal high schools deliberated and found Michael William Odom guilty of reckless driving and attempting to allude a police officer.
Judge Sue Bell Cobb was among the guest speakers at Law Day.
During her opening remarks, she stressed the importance of promises made by lawyers, judges, witnesses and others involved in the judicial process, and when determining the outcome of each case, it's important to put aside differences and rule accordingly.