Woods Cross student experiences a day in the life of a judge

Apr 7 2011 - 10:28pm

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ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner
Andres Lancheros, a junior at Woods Cross High School, watches from the jury box during a sentencing trial while shadowing Judge Thomas L. Kay on Thursday at the 2nd District Court in Farmington.
ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner
Judge Thomas L. Kay presides over a case while being shadowed by Andres Lancheros, a junior at Woods Cross High School on Thursday at the 2nd District Court in Farmington.
ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner
Andres Lancheros, a junior at Woods Cross High School, watches from the jury box during a sentencing trial while shadowing Judge Thomas L. Kay on Thursday at the 2nd District Court in Farmington.
ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner
Judge Thomas L. Kay presides over a case while being shadowed by Andres Lancheros, a junior at Woods Cross High School on Thursday at the 2nd District Court in Farmington.

FARMINGTON -- Sitting in the jury section of the courtroom gave Andres Lancheros a ringside seat.

Andres, a Woods Cross High School junior, took a day away from his spring vacation Thursday to spend it with 2nd District Court Judge Thomas L. Kay.

Andres is one of eight students participating in the statewide program that pairs students with judges in April and May. This is the sixth year the program has been available.

In the morning, Andres sat in Kay's Bountiful courtroom to hear civil cases. The majority of those cases had to do with people not paying their bills.

"A whole lot of people didn't show up," Andres said.

Kay said what people don't understand is they make the situation worse by not coming to court, even though they may not be able to pay the bill.

Andres heard about the program from his debate coach. He decided to take the opportunity to learn more about the legal system.

"A man should have interests in many things and learn a little bit about everything," Andres said.

But what affected Andres the most was watching the criminal cases Thursday afternoon in 2nd District Court in Farmington.

Andres, who arrived in the United States six years ago from Colombia, said he is impressed that, "in the United States, you are innocent until proven guilty."

Andres was not totally prepared to see the impact of one person's bad choices.

A teenage girl spoke during her father's sentencing hearing, pleading with Kay to release him from jail.

"It really hurts to see my father through a screen," the girl said between sobs.

Her father had been convicted in a jury trial of a class A misdemeanor sexual battery.

Kay ordered the man, who is undocumented, to serve 200 days in Davis County Jail, giving him credit for 141 days he has served and then to be released to immigration authorities to be deported to Mexico.

"It's sad," Andres said. "What he did mostly hurts his family."

Kay said he has had several students job shadow him over the years.

When his office was at the Layton courthouse, he had students spend the semester with him, and several of them have gone on to law school.

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