Public gets its day in court

Posted: Sunday, April 30, 2000

Goldilocks will be tried Monday at Dimond Courthouse for criminal trespassing and malicious mischief.

The mock criminal trial is part of activities for Law Day, organized to help people brush up on their knowledge of the legal system. The open house will include an array of presentations by judges, lawyers, social workers and volunteers from 9:15 a.m. to midafternoon Monday at Dimond Courthouse.

``State vs. Goldilocks,'' starting at 10:15 a.m., takes the yellow-haired protagonist of the well-known folk tale to task for entering the three bears' house and breaking a chair.

``It's going to be a hoot,'' said attorney Sheri Hazeltine, president of the Juneau Bar Association. ``Volunteer attorneys and members of the public have memorized scripts.''

Hazeltine sees the trial of Goldilocks as suitable for students from third grade and up.

Presentations begin at 9:15 a.m. with a talk on ``Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs'' by Judge Peter Froehlich. Other judges and justices will talk later on topics such as small claims, criminal proceedings, and mediation and settlement.

The open house concludes with a presentation, ``Delinquency, Neglect and Abuse; Alcohol and Mental Commitments,'' by Judge Larry Weeks at 2:15 p.m. Weeks said his presentation will depend a good deal on his audience.

``If we get adults, we will talk about mental commitments and children in need of aid. If we get 16-year-olds, we will talk about juvenile crime,'' Weeks said. ``We'll go with the flow.''

Civil clerk Erik Evans will assist Magistrate John Sivertsen Jr. with the small claims presentation.

``We will explain what we have available for people to fill out for small claims, and what happens once the paperwork hits our desk, from start to finish,'' Evans said. The presentation will be geared to the specific legal curiosities of the audience.

Although established in 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Law Day is being marked in Juneau for the first time.

``We have never done this before that I know of or remember,'' attorney Hazeltine said.

More than 65 justices, judges and magistrates are scheduled to make Law Day presentations in Alaska, said Justice Dana Fabe, the Alaska Supreme Court's coordinator for the statewide effort.

Law Day activities began elsewhere in Alaska last year, Fabe said. Its success prompted the court to continue the program.

``It provides a wonderful opportunity for kids in communities throughout the state to meet with judges, ask questions, and learn more about the important role of the courts in our democracy,'' Fabe said.

For details, call Neil Nesheim, area court administrator for the First Judicial District, 465-4753.

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