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Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court

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Courts to School

April 13, 2022

Courts to School resumes after two-year pause

Metro Court’s Courts to School Program returned to a local high school Wednesday, April 13th after a two-year pause. The program has been on hold since 2020 due to COVID-19 precautions.

“We’ve dusted off the traveling bench and are looking forward to getting out into the schools once again to help students better understand the criminal justice system and to answer their questions regarding the law and possible careers in the legal field,” said Judge Victor E. Valdez, who presides over the program.

An auditorium full of Albuquerque Academy high school students witnessed a plea hearing and the sentencing of a 22-year-old man who was charged with DWI, running a series of red lights, driving without headlights/taillights and with an open container in his vehicle late last year – his first run-in with the law. After he was sentenced, the defendant addressed the students to talk about how driving while under the influence has impacted his life.

“We would like to stress the educational value for young people who are now out on the roads assuming adult responsibilities. Hearing from someone who has experienced the life-changing consequences of DWI provides an impactful warning to students who will undoubtedly face choices about drinking and driving,” added Judge Valdez.

The Courts to School program, part of Metro Court’s education and prevention outreach efforts, brings the actual courtroom experience to students across Bernalillo County. The experience includes converting part of a school into a courtroom, with a judge’s bench, flags, counsel tables, and uniformed security.

Courts to School proceedings are actual hearings with real defendants and attorneys. The only difference is that the hearings are conducted off-site in front of a large student audience.

For more information, please contact Program Manager Ana Quintana-Sanchez at (505) 841-8178.