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A day in court

By Jane Stebbins / The Curry Coastal Pilot

About 60 first-graders from Kalmiopsis Elementary School in Brookings went to court in Gold Beach Wednesday.

One had allegedly taken a baseball from another student.

Another knew who might have written graffiti in the girls' restroom.

The field trip was actually part of Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Beaman's presentation of what judges, district attorneys, juries, defense attorneys and witnesses do in the course of a day.

The 6- and 7-year-olds sprang to attention as the judge rapped her gavel and began a PowerPoint video explaining the daily operations of the courtroom. And she was ready to see what the kids already knew.

"What does a judge do?" she asked the packed courtroom.

"Say guilty!" replied a boy named Mark.

A boy named Logan replied, "He would -"

"- or she," Beaman interjected with a smile.

"Or she. She would, like andhellip; or he would, like andhellip; or she would - ah gee," Logan said, dropping back onto the bench.

Another boy announced it was his birthday.

More than half of the students' hands went up when she asked who wanted to be an attorney when they grew up. And almost all were in the air when asked who wanted to become a police officer.

Beaman explained that a judge helped settle arguments brought by people who thought others had done something wrong. The attorneys, she said, take one side or the other and explain how they think something happened. And the jury decides who's right.

This is the seventh time Beaman has opened her courtroom to first graders to allow them a glimpse into the world of law, from first encounters with a police officers to the last, with a judge.

And the two she'd teasingly accused of stealing a ball and being a witness to a crime were released to their teachers after being found not guilty.

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The Curry Coastal Pilot
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