Perry County Judge Takes Court to the Classroom

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High school students in Perry County are getting an up close look at the consequences of drunk driving. High school seniors watched a real DUI trial unfold Friday in their school to see what happens when people make poor decisions.

Perry County Judge Dean Wilson started the program. He said it's the only one of its kind in the state, and possibly the country. There is a judge, a prosecutor and a defense. There is a trial going on in a courtroom, but the courtroom happens to be a high school auditorium. 

Miller High School senior Jacy Dutiel said, “I’ve never been to anything like this before so just to see how they do things and the way it is set up is neat to see.” The trial is center stage. The defendant in Friday’s case is accused of being drunk behind the wheel of a parked car. The captive audience of high school students watches the proceedings.

“Everyone knows someone who drinks alcohol and may have possibly been arrested for it, so they get to see what people will go through with such an experience,” New Lexington High School senior Kyle Williams said.

The students are getting more than a civics lesson; they are also learning the consequences of drinking and getting behind the wheel. The lesson is just in time for prom season.  New Lexington High School senior Jessica Williams said, “I think it is a new take, everyone has done the mock accident but this is something new.”

Judge Wilson said he started the program 11 years ago with just a few students. Friday, more than 200 students, from six schools, watched the trial at New Lexington High School.

“We've fortunately not had one alcohol related incident in any of the schools, involving the proms, since we instituted the program,” Judge Dean Wilson said. While he doesn’t attribute the stat solely to the program, he says it is helping and students seem to be listening to the message.

Judge Wilson said he specifically picks the cases to be tried in front of the students.  He said the defendant must agree to participate.

In Friday’s case, the defendant was found guilty.