Three judges from the Colorado Court of Appeals visit Glenwood Springs High School this morning as part of the Colorado Judicial Branch’s Courts in the Community, an outreach program established 30 years ago.
Called Colorado Judicial Branch’s Courts in the Community, the statewide outreach program is a way for judges to get out on the road and visit high schools. Magistrates hear oral arguments with a student audience to teach about the state judicial system. This year, Colorado Court of Appeals judges are visiting Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs.
Judge Gilbert M. Roman said the court made a decision that they wanted to expand the program this year so they could hear from more voices in the communities they visit. In addition to meeting with high school students, the judges will also talk with elementary school students, the local BAR association, the local Access to Justice Commission and the local judges.
“From a judge standpoint, it’s just really important for us to connect with the community, and when I say community I mean the statewide community,” Roman said. “To be able to hear what their concerns might be with the appellate process. We are able to take that back to our colleagues and then the court as a whole discusses possible concerns or issues that were brought to our attention.”
Students will see judges hearing one case that is relevant to the Roaring Fork Valley and another that is a criminal case. Teachers are briefed ahead of time in order to prepare students so they know exactly what the case is about when they get there.
“We choose cases that we think they will be interested in,” Jon Sarache, the Colorado Judicial Department’s deputy public information officer, said.
Roman said that these cases give the students a chance to see a different side of how a trial works.
“It’s an eye opener for the kids because a lot of time what they see is what the media presents,” Roman said. “They don’t see the appellate process very often so they aren’t familiar with it. So they learn a lot about how the legal system works beyond the trial.”
The judges head onto Steamboat Springs to do the same outreach initiatives this Thursday.