ALAMO – Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD hosted the 3rd Courts in Schools with Hidalgo County 92nd District Court Judge Luis Manuel Singleterry presiding at PSJA Memorial Early College High School on Friday, Feb. 1, 2019.
The new program is part of Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 42.025-Sentencing Hearing at Secondary Schools that allows judges to order sentencing hearings hosted at high schools to provide this educational value to students.
“This is the third PSJA ISD school we host a court hearing at,” said Judge Singleterry. “We’re very happy to see all the interest by the students and staff. The participation from our lawyers, elected officials, and the defendants who volunteer to share their stories with the kids is incredible.”
Students present at the first courts in schools hearing included those interested in becoming attorneys, mock trial participants, and those who are currently participating in the district’s new Pre-Law Institute. Launched fall 2018, the PSJA ISD Pre-Law Institute provides students interested in careers in the legal field with mentorship opportunities and insight into the law profession from practicing attorneys and judges.
By witnessing real court, students are able to see attorneys and judges in action, allowing them to learn more about careers in the legal field. PSJA ISD was the first district in Hidalgo County to offer this academic opportunity for students.
For Gabriel Perez, a senior at PSJA Memorial Early College High School, witnessing the real court hearing was impactful.
“It was an amazing opportunity to get to visualize what it’s like to be in a real courtroom setting,” said Perez who was an active member of the PSJA Memorial Mock Trial Team. “I always wanted to practice corporate law, but getting to see the criminal court definitely got me interested.”
According to Perez, it was also very inspiring to hear from PSJA ISD alumni who currently have careers in the criminal justice field.
“It’s a symbol of hope for most students to hear from PSJA graduates,” said the senior. “It’s good to know that no matter where you’re from you can practice law and serve the community.”