So week four was about the role of the defense attorney. In the syllabus it said "You will witness an actual DUI trial in during [sic] this session."
They started with an actual judge, and actual CHP officer, a prosecutor, a defense attorney, and some guy and went through a quick trial -- two counts, (A) one of driving under the influence and (B) one of being over 0.08%. There was a two hour lag between the time the defendant was pulled over for having his high beams on and when the breath test was taken. The A count was guilty, B count not guilty. It all fit together very neatly, with the CHP officer carefully explaining to the judge (but really to us) what the roadside tests are looking for, and the defendant expressing remorse and everybody playing up how expensive a DUI is. At the end the bailiff took the defendant outside in handcuffs and then came back without him and hung out for another 30 minutes until the judge had finished talking to us.
I assumed this was just a half hour of play acting. Everybody else seemed to assume that was the real thing. Normally when I'm that far off the average I assume I'm probably wrong (because hey, I'm not a white man...), but in this case, I've seen how little critical thinking other people in the class have, so I'm still not sure.
Then a different defense attorney came in and talked about some stuff (things like "hey, these are constitutional rights here") and I was once again left wondering what the DA's office was hoping to get back from this class. They have a bunch of people spending a lot of time and effort on this, and I appreciate that, but I wonder why they're doing it. I asked the person next to me what the target audience really was and she looked confused and said "the citizens".
I feel like I'm the only one in the class looking the gift horse in the mouth, but there you have it.
Anyhow, this week the victim services people came in and talked about what they do and what resources are available. It was all interesting since I know pretty much none of that side of things.
But the best part (for me) was the beginning when the K-9 group came in. We had a quick presentation about the group and how they pick and train the dogs and then we had demos from four dogs in the parking lot of the police station.
The first dog was demonstrating tracking, so one officer took the dog's toy, went into the police station, and hid the toy inside. The handler then got the dog out of the car, put him on a 30' leash, and had him search. The dog picked up the scent fairly quickly and led us to the door.
I think I've mentioned how this group goes through doors before. Ahem. So once the dog and handler went through and the dog picked up the scent and started dragging his handler down the hall at a good clip, the rest of us were trying to get past the five people who stopped one foot inside the door and blocked the entryway. I finally just used my elbows -- walking my fastest I was able to catch up with the dog and officer before we lost them completely. We went down a couple of hallways, then upstairs, and into a conference room and the dog found his toy and was super happy. My dogs only get that happy when there's food involved.
Then we all had to go back through the door again for the other demos. Two drug searches and a explosives residue find later and it was time for everyone to pet the dogs and ask questions. Everyone else was asking stuff like "how do you tell the dog it's time to look for drugs?" and I was asking things like "how do you search for things in a field of foxtails?" (The officer winced when I asked that one. Clearly it has been a problem.)
Next week we get to talk about what county law enforcement is doing to address the problem of the homeless population. Stay tuned.