During the holiday break on Dec. 19, Student Trial Lawyers Association members hosted the 21st annual tour of the Fulton County Courthouse for international students through the Atlanta Ministry for International Students.
Phillip Curtis (J.D. '13) and Leslie Smith (J.D. '13) conducted a courtroom demonstration, arguing a case about a fictional cooking competition show. STLA alumna and Superior Court Judge Shaw Lagrua (J.D. '87) presided over the proceedings.
Each year, the ministry arranges accommodations around Atlanta for international students who are unable to return home during the winter break. Among the programs offered, the ministry provides a tour of the courthouse and a discussion of the American legal system with a courtroom demonstration.
"I think one unique benefit of holding the presentation at the courthouse was that several of the students were able to sit in the jury box during the opening statement and closing argument," Curtis said. "In sitting as jurors, they were able to participate in the simulation, which many of them seemed to enjoy."
The students definitely understood the presentation and asked a lot of really good questions afterward regarding jury selection, double jeopardy, etc., Smith said.
"I think that sometimes Americans take our legal system for granted because we haven't experienced any other system, but the presentation was a good reminder about how trial by jury isn't always the norm," said Smith, who enjoyed working with the ministry. "The international students who attended the presentation were more familiar with trials conducted solely by judges."
Curtis agreed. "Overall I think the experience was good for both Leslie and I, as well as the international students... we also benefited from hearing their perceptions of American courts.
"It was a pleasure to demonstrate American trial advocacy with the international students especially since they were being exposed to the courtroom environment for the first time," he said.