Seniors from Eastside High School, Union High School, J.I. Burton High School, and Central High School gathered at 9:30 a.m. for two cases. The cases were prosecuted by Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp and Chief Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Steven Davis. Local attorneys Joseph Carico and Brent Fleming represented the defendants. The first case involved a charge of assault and battery and a charge of underage possession of alcohol. The second case was a charge of driving under the influence. Both cases were based upon real cases recently tried in Wise County.
Other participants included Wise County Assistant Sheriff Colonel Grant Kilgore, Wise County Sheriff's Deputy and Courtroom Bailiff Pete Bowers, Norton City Police Officer Zachary Church, Wise County Circuit Court Master Deputy Clerk Dezarah Adkins, and witnesses Cassie Carnes, Trevor Boggs, and Courtney Mullins.
Following the two cases, participants fielded questions from the student audience and explained certain aspects of Virginia law to the audience. The discussion included questions about cell phone evidence, how juvenile criminal records can be permanent, the dangers of methamphetamine, opioids, marijuana, and other drugs, and how to pursue a career in law or law enforcement.
Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp remarked, "We are so thankful that our school systems partnered with us again this year to provide this program to area students. It is important for our young people to see firsthand how the criminal justice system works in real-life situations. Our goal today was to inspire these students and ensure that they understand the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and other crimes."
Gina Wohlford, Norton City Public Schools Superintendent, said, "Any time we can provide real-world experiences for learning, it has a greater impact. We are excited for our students to again participate in the annual courts to classrooms experience. Our students always enjoy being a part of the program and I believe that it is having a positive impact on them for their future."
Greg Mullins, Wise County Public Schools Superintendent, commented, "Our school system is excited to once again partner with Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp in providing a very special opportunity for our students to gain an inside perspective of the functions of the judiciary. We want them to develop an understanding of how the court system works, but we especially wanted them to understand how making wrong choices about things such as speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and other crimes can deeply and adversely affect their lives. We appreciate Mr. Slemp and his staff for their efforts in making this possible."
Wise County Assistant Sheriff Grant Kilgore said, "It was a pleasure to be a part of the Courts to Classrooms program this year. This event provides a great learning experience for young people in our region and I am so proud that our Department could be a part of something that has such a positive impact on so many students."
Slemp described the program as a "team effort" and offeredpraise forthe contributions of those who helped make this year's event a success.