The Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court (BCMC) continues to strive to address serious issues that impact the lives of the people in our community.
Throughout the years, the goals of BCMC have been to deter individuals from the criminal justice system. The Courts to School Program is designed to bring the courtroom experience into the school system by exposing high school students to the procedures and realities of the criminal justice system. This is an actual Court proceeding and has all the components of a courtroom; including the defendant, defense counsel, prosecutor, law enforcement, a probation officer, and the Program Judge. With this experience, it is the expectation that young people will become more aware of their civic responsibilities, the dangers and consequences of drinking and driving and the advantages of being law-abiding citizens.
Two to three defendants are screened and selected to participate in each Courts to School session.
The defendants are screened for both suitability and eligibility and are willing to positively contribute to the overall goal of the program by complying with the following list of responsibilities:
- Participating in courtroom procedures conducted in a school environment;
- Addressing the Court and the student audience with an approved speech;
- Describing how the DWI arrest changed their life;
- Describing what led to their decision to drink and drive;
- Identifying what they could have done differently;
- Providing advice to young people;
- Describing how the DWI has affected their family, employment, and/or present goals;
- Explaining how they plan to deal with the penalties of the DWI;
- Preparing for incarceration and be handcuffed and transported to serve required jail time from the school.
The Courts to School Program is a post-adjudication program. The actual sentencing is done on-sight at the selected high school or college. The defendant must do the mandatory minimum jail time, one year of probation, and all other mandatory requirements by law. The defendant may earn hours towards their community service for participating.
The Courts to School Program is presided over by Judge Victor E. Valdez, with additional judicial support from Judges Sandra Engel, Sharon Walton, and Yvette Gonzales. All four Judges volunteer their time to the Courts to School Program, in addition to their regular court dockets.
If you are interested in having a Courts to School program presented at your high school, please contact Al Valdez at 505-841-8139 for more information.