The closest some people will come to a courtroom is by watching an episode of Law and Order. Now imagine a kid experiencing that same drama in real life.
The Boyd School of Law's Kids' Court School is helping alleviate the angst and fear of the judicial process, and is just one example of how university programs serve Nevada's youth.
Kids' Court School
Kids' Court School helps reduce anxiety for children caught up in the court system, said Rebecca Nathanson, the program's director.
Taught by law students and graduate students in education, children scheduled to testify in court learn about the investigative and judicial processes, as well as the roles and functions of courtroom participants.
Nathanson, a professor of education and law, started the program in 2003 because her research told her that giving young witnesses more knowledge about the judicial process could make them feel less nervous and enhance their testimony.
Kids' Court School uses a model courtroom, complete with wooden figurines of the participants to familiarize the children with the procedures. Children are taught how to reduce anxiety while testifying and participate in a mock trial in the Thomas & Mack Moot Courtroom.
Nearly 300 children have taken part in the free program. Kids' Court School is typically for children ages 4 through 17. Although the majority of these children have been victims of crimes, a number of them have been accused of crimes, Nathanson said.
Kids' Court School is just one of several programs in the law school's Thomas & Mack Legal Clinic helping kids.
Child Welfare Clinic
Students represent children with issues related to:
- child protection
- termination of parental rights
They also represent children in matters that involve contested trials and administrative advocacy.
Juvenile Justice Clinic
Students help children who have been charged in juvenile delinquency proceedings. They negotiate with district attorneys, conduct contested hearings or trials, and advocate for appropriate sentences.
Students represent children and parents in education matters in the Clark County School District, including:
- special education