Open Doors of Justice

He Started Texting and Didn’t Slow Down

Counsel for Plaintiff: What happened then?

Young: Well, Riley was cruising along when his cell phone rang. He looked at it
and must have seen a text message because he said something like, “Taylor is
driving me crazy.” He then started texting and didn’t slow down or anything, and it
was raining and at night, which was definitely not cool.  It made me edgy. He later
tossed the phone into my lap or dropped it right before the car crashed.

Counsel for Plaintiff: Tell us what you remember about the accident.

Young: It’s kind of a fuzzy blur, but I remember we skidded, then slammed into a
light pole in the Parkway median. The paramedics had to pry me out of the car.

No, this isn’t a portion of a transcript from the courtroom, but the fact pattern is topical.  And it was played out this November in the courtrooms of the Western District in conjunction with the annual Open Doors of Justice program, a nationwide educational outreach activity.

The courthouses in Kansas City and Springfield host area high school students who wish to learn more about the federal court. What better way for them to learn about what goes on in a courtroom than to jump right in and participate in a mock trial.

U.S. District Judge Richard Dorr in Springfield and U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Larsen in Kansas City lead their groups into action.  Students were selected to fulfill roles of those who serve justice:  a federal judge, a federal prosecutor, a federal public defender, a court clerk, etc.... In addition, the students also played the roles of plaintiff, defendant, witnesses and jurors.

“The students love coming to the courthouse.  They learn so much and enjoy the interaction with the employees who work there,” commented Shanna Hicks, teacher, Olathe East High School.

The event in the Springfield office also included unique participants, such as Cindy the bomb-sniffing canine from the Fire Marshall’s office, Greg Enyart of the Secret Service, Donald Higgerson from ATF and Kelly Palmer of the U.S. Marshal’s Office. 

Students and court staff alike enjoyed the opportunity to share during the event and to remind each other about the risks of texting and driving.


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