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Bronxites can tour courts at the Bronx Hall of Justice

State Supreme Court officials are looking to increase knowledge of the judicial process by encouraging residents to take advantage of court tours and the community outreach program.

Many people today get caught up in the excitement and thrill of television series, such as Law & Order, giving them false ideas of how our system really works.

Court tours at the Bronx Hall of Justice, located 265 E. 161st Street, and the community outreach program, are a free way to educate Bronxites and restore their faith in our courts.

“It’s to educate people and citizens on how the judicial system works, a lot of people don’t have confidence in the system and have the wrong information from television,” said Luis Monge, senior court officer. “We want to demystify everything that happens in the courts.”

Groups of 10 to 30 can sign up for the court tours, bringing participates to observe an actual court proceeding, generally criminal, though a civil proceeding may be requested.

The day lasts from around 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., including a question and answer period, when court personnel, often a judge, may be invited to speak. The group will also perform a mock trial, taking on different roles to enact their own proceeding.

If a group of students or an organization is to large or cannot make it to the court, the community outreach program will send court personnel to speak about the courts.

“I will present a diagram on what the courtroom looks like, give people information on the jobs available in the courts and what education is required for each, and explain about jury service and trail proceedings,” said Monge.

Monge explained that there is also an ‘at risk’ program for students in or on the verge of trouble. For this, he will explain possible consequences and how to deal with authority.

“I explain the consequences of getting involved in the criminal justice system,” said Monge. “For instance, in New York State most kids don’t know that at 13 years old they can be tried and sentenced as a adult for certain crimes.”

An adopt a school program brings a court representative into the school for a semester to teach about the history of law and its impact on society, including students participating in both criminal and civil mock trials.

For more information call (718) 618-1835.

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