LOS ANGELES – The Appellate Court Experience, a program that gives high school students a chance to learn about the judicial system, held its most recent event on March 14 at the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Appellate District.

Launched in 2005, the program allows students to visit the court and watch courtroom cases.

“They get to meet with the attorneys and the justices, ask questions and take pictures and if nothing else, [get] a half day out of school,” Joseph Lane, executive officer of the court for the 2nd Appellate District, told the Northern California Record. “Many schools will use the rest of the day to visit other parts of downtown.”

Lane said the program is made possible with dedication from all who participate, the local Bar, the Constitutional Rights Foundation and teachers.

The 2nd Appellate District's ACE program "has served thousands of students from more than 50 high schools in Los Angeles and Ventura counties," according to the California Courts website.

Lane said the number of students who attend the event varies at each event.

“As the schools are not always the same, the number can range from 30 to 60 students, and this most-recent group numbered about 40,” Lane said.

ACE is co-sponsored by the appellate court, the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF), the Los Angeles County Bar Association's Appellate Courts Section (ACS), and the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers (CAAL).

According to the California Courts website, "the program includes a classroom curriculum administered by appellate attorneys from the ACS and the CAAL featuring a pending appeal, followed by a visit to the court of appeal to observe oral arguments in the case previously studied in the classroom. After oral argument, the students are introduced to the appellate court process firsthand with an opportunity to interact with the justices and the attorneys."

“It gives them an opportunity to see firsthand what a court of appeal looks like and what it actually is. Also to meet with attorneys and justices and see them as real people and possibly see that they might also like a career in the law,” Lane said. “As the third leg of our democracy, we want to make it possible for students to get an understanding of what it means to a free society to have such a system.”

The next scheduled program will be held on Thursday, April 12 at 10 a.m. in the courtroom located in Ventura, according to the California Courts website. Students from Santa Paula High School will participate and hear oral arguments with Division Six presiding.

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