Professor Kenneth Thomas firmly believes that it’s important for the students in his Introduction to Criminal Justice (CJI 101) class to see first-hand how the justice system works. “It’s one thing to go to class and listen to a lecture, but another thing altogether to get practical experience in the courtroom,” he said.
And his students recently had a golden opportunity to first sit in on U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven C. Mannion’s courtroom followed by the jurist for the District of New Jersey making an appearance in the CJI 101 class.
Professor Thomas noted that after listening to the judge in action, there was a very free flowing of pertinent questions when Judge Mannion spoke recently to the class. “How often do the students have the opportunity to even be in a federal courtroom, let alone be able to ask questions of the judge?”
When they did visit the courtroom on March 22, Judge Mannion introduced them as students and various officials, such as U.S. Marshals and prosecutors, also talked to them. “They clearly felt special that day,” Professor Thomas recalled.
He added that his students have a good understanding of the language used in court, which is clearly beyond what they see on television and in the movies. “Experiences like these with Judge Mannion help to also expand their minds.”
Professor Thomas also has brought in Marshals and lawyers into both his CJI 101 and Introduction to Criminal Law (CJI 205) classes. He added he emphasizes the courts, corrections and policing in his classes to expose students to as wide a spectrum as possible.
“This will only help the students in the future as they go on with their careers.”