Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, June 7, 2002


Page 3


Students Get Real Life Lessons in Punctuality, Preparation During ‘Pizza and Root Beer’ Session at Courthouse


By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer


Students called strict deadlines and a “dress for success” dress code the more annoying parts of being a member of the Mira Costa High School Model United Nations team, but the four who attended Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lawrence W. Crispo’s “Pizza and Root Beer” session yesterday saw that punctuality and organization pay off in the real world.

Crispo called the students’ attention to mistakes made by the lawyers who appeared at his morning calendar call, instructing offending attorneys to take their hands out of their pockets when addressing the court and to bring their calendars so they can schedule future trial dates.

Crispo also expressed frustration over having to place cases on second call because lawyers were not in court on time.

“[Our coach] is so strict with us turning in our papers,” junior Megan Skaggs said. “Why does five minutes matter? But Judge Crispo showed us it does matter.”

Crispo explained he would not have pointed out the attorneys’ blunders if the students hadn’t been there, but he wanted them to see the value of putting their best foot forward.

“If you’re not prepared, it’s just not good,” senior Robert Kassouf observed.

More than 80 students make up Manhattan Beach’s Mira Costa U.N. team, which travels across the country competing against other schools as members research and draw up resolutions in preparation for representing their assigned country.

In March, 31 Mira Costa students traveled to New York, where they had the opportunity to tour the United Nations.

Crispo first contacted the team, which is undefeated over the last three years, after learning about their “roasts,” in which Timberlake plays devil’s advocate and tries to locate weaknesses in his student’s arguments and policy decisions.

With their only knowledge of the court system coming from television courtroom dramas, the students had the opportunity to see the inner workings of a civil courtroom, from the opening of the court day by Sheriff Lee Baca through closing of the morning calendar.

“I came in here expecting some heated battle,” sophomore Marcus Gibson said. “Maybe I watch too much TV, but it’s a lot different than I expected.”

After completing the morning calendar, Crispo left the bench and ate pizza and fielded questions from the students while they sat in the jury box. Questions ranged from the setup of the District Attorney’s Office to why defendants are allowed to wear regular clothes when they appear in front of a jury.

Crispo stressed that even the tiniest details of how a court runs make a difference and that every effort must be made to preserve its integrity and serve everyone fairly.

“It is important that our system of justice not only is fair, but has the appearance of fairness,” Crispo told the group.

Baca spoke to the students and the lawyers awaiting their cases to be called about his role in protecting the courts and the criminal justice system.

Baca also reminded the students of the fine line law enforcement officers must walk when pursuing criminals, trying to find and capture the perpetrator while protecting the civil rights of citizens.

“Civil rights are one of the most precious forms of laws we have as Americans,” Baca said. “If we lose that we will not be a free and democratic society.”

Kassouf, who said he has always wanted to be a lawyer, but he is leaving the door open to other possibilities, said the courtroom trip was “just good insight.”

The students were also given a tour of the civil courthouse’s lockup facility, including a demonstration of how it feels to be locked in a cell.


Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company