Thursday, December 7, 2023

Ukiah Students Visit the Courthouse to Learn About the Justice System and the Constitution

The following is a press release issued by the Mendocino County Superior Court:

A crew of 5th graders awaiting their courthouse experience [All photos provided by the Mendocino County Superior Court]

On September 28, 2023, the Mendocino Superior Court hosted more than 100 fifth grade students from the Ukiah Unified School District to augment their understanding of how the US Constitution is the foundation of our justice system. All fifth-grade students in the Ukiah School District have spent the month of September learning about the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, court cases that have shaped our democracy and the role of an independent judiciary in the United States. The field trip to the courthouse was designed to reinforce what the students were learning and to show them that the Constitution underpins how the justice system works. Such principles as protection of individual rights and due process, appointment of counsel for indigent defendants, trials before a jury of one’s peers, and other tenets of the US Constitution are visible reminders of the Constitution and are among the daily activities in every trial court.

The field trip was originally conceived by Ukiah teacher Rocio Ramos. When she contacted the court to see if a field trip would be possible, the court enthusiastically agreed to collaborate with her. Ms. Ramos said, “We are excited to introduce our 5th graders, who are studying the branches of government and historical court cases, to our local judicial system. This is a way to connect students in a positive format to the legal system and strengthen our community relationships while inspiring them to be civically engaged. You never know, one of these students might become a Supreme Court justice one day!”

Court Executive Officer Kim Turner, who took the lead in organizing the activities, said, “This is a golden opportunity for students to have a first, positive exposure to the court system and to our judges. So many people are reticent about coming to court, finding it confusing and difficult to navigate. My greatest hope is that students will leave the courthouse today with an appreciation for the important work that is done here each day and with an understanding about the importance of the rule of law. The court strives to be open, accessible and helpful to all Mendocino residents. I hope that we conveyed this to the students.”

Judge Faulder, Dolan, and Shanahan answer questions with the 5th graders

Students met first with Ms. Turner talking about California trial courts. Then, students observed hearings in four courtrooms. In addition, Judge Jeanine Nadel orchestrated a mock trial in her courtroom where the students served as judge, jury, attorneys, witnesses and court staff. After courtroom observations, the students convened in the Jury Assembly Room and Judges Faulder, Dolan and Shanahan answered their questions about being a judge, difficult cases, Constitutional issues in court, and a variety of other topics.

Both Ukiah School District and the Court hope to make this learning experience an annual event.

- Advertisement -


  1. Fact.
    Those fifth graders have a near infinitely greater chance at legal literacy than the trolls who “grace” this site with their “wisdom”.

    • Fact, 1 in 10 of those boys and 1 in 4 of those girls will be sexually assaulted before they’re 18. Not sure if the wisdom they gain from this ‘field trip’ will do anything but prop up the idea that someone from the government will save them and that everyone has access to the same lawyers

  2. This is a nice positive thing to read.
    It is good to see kids interested in civics and seemingly wanting to learn about our judicial system. The Founding Fathers designed a government based upon an informed and educated citizenry. To be a good citizen. It is good to see the kids learning something about how our government works. They are learning how to think not being told what to think. Maybe they will be able to visit local businesses to see how the private sector works, or the Board of Supervisors, county office departments. Getting interested early in a career with a goal for a job they want to have when they grow up is inspiring.
    Do the schools still have citizenship classes, on how to be a good citizen?

  3. Check,
    You obviously see the glass as “half empty” and may be experiencing apathy.

    Pursue a more perfect union rather than attempting to hobble and undermine it.

Join the Conversation

MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
Editor's Note: Whenever an article's byline reads "MendoFever Staff", the contents of that article were not composed by any of our reporters. Types of writing that will be attributed to "MendoFever Staff" include press releases, letters to the editor, op-eds, obituaries— essentially writing that is not produced by a reporter.

Today's News


News from the Week