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Judge guides TFS seniors down gavel road

 
 

 

Courtroom protocol and decorum ruled the day when the Class of 2018 visited the Habersham County Courthouse on Feb 5.

In what has become a tradition for Tallulah Falls School students enrolled in the required senior government class, this year’s trip to the halls of justice showcased the judicial system in action.

A civil trial scheduled to start on the morning of the visit brought into focus the process of jury selection.

Mountain Judicial Circuit Superior Court Chief Judge B. Chan Caudell prepped court officials and several panels of potential jurors in advance of the students’ arrival.

“You have the opportunity to see the process at work that makes our country unique,” Caudell told the students.

He reminded the students a citizen’s right to a jury trial is pivotal to the democracy.

After explaining the role of the various officials present in the courtroom, he outlined the process that would unfold just before the first panel filed into the jury box. During his brief absence to summon the group of 12, the court reporter and sheriff’s deputy explained their roles.

Students then heard attorneys pose to the panel questions related to the case – a financial dispute between siblings. In the first panel, two potential jurors were excused for medical reasons prompting Wayne Lancaster, attorney for the plaintiff, to seize the moment to emphasize the important duty of a juror.

One of the potential jurors stated he served for eight years in the armed forces; Lancaster said the veteran reminded the group of the sacrifices necessary to uphold a free society.

“You are exercising the greatest freedom,” Lancaster said.

The courtroom visit is part of upper school social studies teacher Dallas Barron’s government class, which explores the foundations, key components and various roles of government in the United States.

“Judge Caudell has continuously provided our students with a valuable experience by allowing the senior class to observe trials. To witness the jury selection process provides students with a knowledge that goes beyond the classroom,” Barron said. “As a teacher, I can explain how the judicial system works. Sitting in the courtroom, seeing people involved in a court case brings the classroom content to life. Our annual field trip may help students better understand this important part of our government or it might spark an interest that prompts students to learn more about the judicial branch.”

Tom Tilley, upper school social studies teacher, echoed Barron’s comments about the experiential learning opportunity.

“This was a fantastic experience for the seniors; trips like this could alter a student’s career path,” Tilley said. "I  was very impressed Judge Caudell taught our students how our judicial system works; this wasn't just ‘come and see our courtroom.’”

Senior Grace Brewer of Clarkesville said it was her first time in a courtroom observing a trial.
“I really enjoyed getting to see how the jury was selected,” Brewer said. “I may be called to be a juror one day and it was interesting to see how the process worked and applied to my life.”

Senior Laura Brothers of Toccoa said she was amazed at the in-depth process it takes to select a jury.
“I was also surprised at those who did not seem as interested as others were to take part in jury duty,” Brothers said. “I found this experience valuable for students to help prepare us for when we are summoned to jury duty.”

Senior Meredith Church of Clarkesville learned a lot about the process as well.

“Going to observe in the courtroom was far more interesting than I had expected,” Church said. “I loved getting to see firsthand how a jury was picked and I learned so much about the process of deciding a court case.”

Photos
E. Lane Gresham/Tallulah Falls School

Members of the Tallulah Falls School Class of 2018 learn about the judicial system from Mountain Judicial Circuit Chief Superior Court Judge B. Chan Caudell, not shown, during the school's annual visit to the Habersham County Courthouse. 

Amber Dorsey, assistant to Mountain Judicial Circuit Chief Superior Court Judge B. Chan Caudell shares instructions on courtroom protocol during an annual visit to the Habersham County Courthouse. Also shown is Danny Tatum, bailiff for the court.