AP Government classes visit federal courthouse

Mrs. Richter’s second-hour AP Government class visited the Eastern District of Michigan’s United States District Court on Feb. 16. (Photo credit: Mrs. Cindy Richter)

Mercy’s AP Government classes visited the Eastern District of Michigan United States District Court on Feb. 16 and 17.

The classes began their visit with a quick presentation from Assistant U.S. Attorney Regina McCullough, senior Kaitlyn Brown’s mother. She explained the ins and outs of the court system and what it is like to practice law within it.

Executive Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen spoke about his personal political career and how he rose to the high position in which he currently practices. Students also headed to a control room, where they saw how the security systems function at the federal courthouse.

“It was interesting to see the security system because one small panel controls the entire building,” senior Sam Shina said. “On one of the cameras, one of the officers could control it so that we were zooming in on Canada and the Ambassador Bridge.”

In the control room, students were able to see, among other things, several screens monitoring the criminals that were being held before or after a sentencing. In addition, screens displayed live footage of the hallways and exterior of the building.

The classes then witnessed a sentencing led by District Judge Mark A. Goldsmith, followed by an opportunity to ask him questions. He, too, described the process by which he achieved his current position.

Students were led to the “million dollar courtroom” where Chief Judge Denise Page Hood answered questions and explained what it means to have such a significant position in government. She even allowed some students to sit on the bench.

“Overall, it was a very educational experience and was extremely interesting to see the legal system in person,” said senior Jillian Adolf.

Both AP Government classes are currently studying the judicial branch of the government and the intricacies of the court system.

“I was really able to make sense of the concepts that I’m learning in class,” senior Maddy Hintz said. “It was a cool opportunity to see how what we are learning applies to real life situations.”