Thursday, October 25, 2001
Students Explore Fourth Amendment as Bill of Rights Day Returns
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The vagaries of the Fourth Amendment were explored by students from three local high schools yesterday as Bill of Rights Day returned to the Richard H. Chambers Courthouse in Pasadena.
Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Raymond Fisher, whose court hosted the event, joined Assistant U.S. Attorney Miriam Krinsky and Federal Public Defender Maria Stratton for the program.
For the second year in a row, Fisher and Stratton explained what they and their colleagues do in the judicial process, while Krinsky performed the role filled last year by then-U.S. Attorney Alejandro Mayorkas.
This year’s participating schools were Diamond Bar, San Marino, and Belmont high schools.
Under the format used this year, the speakers first addressed the entire assembly of more than 60 students, who were then broken down into smaller groups.
Fisher explained the difference between trial and appellate courts. Krinsky, head of her office’s criminal appellate section, told the students that the prosecutors’ role—in response to a defense appeal—is to tell the appellate court why the judge in the lower court didn’t make any mistakes.
Since the prosecution’s charge is to seek justice, she explained, they will tell the court if something is truly wrong. But “if reasonable minds can differ,” she told the students, the job of the U.S. Attorney’s Office is to defend a conviction.
Stratton drew a few chuckles when she explained how her office differs from that of a local public defender. Its caseload is quite specialized, she noted, with its primary focus being bank robbery, immigration, drugs, and fraud.
The Diamond Bar students, she quipped, represent “the methamphetamine capital of the world,” she explained, while the entire Los Angeles area is “the bank robbery capital of the world” and “the telemarketing fraud capital of the world.”
After the group presentations, the students divided into three groups to discuss how they would address the facts of an actual U.S. Supreme Court case, Illinois v. Wardlow which tested the extent to which citizens are protected from unreasonable police searches by the Fourth Amendment.
Fisher’s group discussed how they would handle the case if they were on the Supreme Court, while Krinsky and Stratton facilitated discussions from the respective views of prosecutor and defense counsel.
The local program was organized and assisted by the Constitutional Rights Foundation. Other programs were to take place around the country this week.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company