170 children attend annual DC Youth Law Fair

About 170 kids showed up at DC Superior Court on Saturday to explore the legal system through the DC Youth Law Fair.

WASHINGTON — About 170 kids showed up at D.C. Superior Court on Saturday to get an up close look at the legal system as part of the annual DC Youth Law Fair.

Hosted by the District of Columbia Bar and D.C. courts, the fair is a chance for kids to see a courtroom and holding cells and meet with judges on friendlier terms.

“We want to introduce the young people to the criminal justice system and the legal system in a positive sense,” said Judge Jose Lopez, one of the organizers of this event.

He and other judges sat in courtrooms packed with kids and their parents to answer questions about the processes and procedures during a trial. They also talked about the choices a person would need to make in order to pursue a career in the field.

Lopez said people who are interested in going to law school might want to  take lots of English classes as undergraduates to develop skills needed to communicate their point. In addition to the questions and answers, representatives from other groups, including the FBI and Metro Transit Police, were there to talk about what they do and how they got to where they are.

“[We] show them that it is available to them,” said Lopez. “It’s something that is reachable. We tell them our own story and how we got there. Because many times they just close it out, they have no idea that they could do that. And so we open doors.”

The exercise meant to help trigger that interest was the mock trial.

“I think the big highlight is when we put them in the mock trial, and we get them to play the role of judge, play the role of prosecutor,” Lopez said.

With students serving as the judge, jury and attorneys, they worked on a mock case that involved a 15-year-old girl named Anita who sent intimate photos of herself to her 18-year-old boyfriend, Darryl, who she went to high school with. But Darryl’s 18-year-old friend JoJo got the pictures first and posted them on social media under Darryl’s name. His defense is that it was supposed to be a joke. Both boys were charged with distributing child pornography.

“It can go one way or the other,” he said, when asked about the potential outcome of the mock trial. “They can see that it’s not just black and white, but at the same time they can see there’s consequences.”

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