X-Term: A Student's Perspective

by Rianna Washington '20
I started off my X-Term week with an exciting day at the downtown courthouse, with the Courts in Action group. They had already started their week on Monday, but they had no problem catching me up to speed.  We started by sitting with Judge Sayfie, the mother of recent MCDS graduates, John and Alex. She answered many of the students’ questions about the things they had witnessed yesterday during jury selection. The Courts in Action group is extremely grateful to her, as she is the reason that they are able to experience so many aspects of the justice system.  Next, we went to watch bond hearings, under Judge Renatha A. Francis, of different cases including grand theft auto, aggravated assault, sexual assault, armed robbery, and even attempted murder.  Later, we were able to hear the dramatic opening statements of a burglary and petty theft trial under Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez. Afterwards, I had the most interesting conversation my fellow X-Term mates and teaches about how different real life trials are from the ones seen on TV.  The most fascinating part of our day was visiting the jail house! Professionalism is a big factor in being able to tour. As a woman, you need to cover up and nobody is allowed to wear open-toed shoes.  While walking through the hallways, there were feelings of anxiety, fear, sadness, but I think most of all: gratitude, for all the things little things that we take for granted in life that as a prisoner, you don’t have access to enjoy. It was such a unique experience, and an educational one for sure.  Before we left, we got to ask questions to Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez, and she gave a lot of insight on what it means to uphold the law as a judge.  We got to witness many real life experiences that occur throughout the justice system, and although it isn’t as exciting and brief as it is on “Law and Order,” it's a rewarding experience.  I’m extremely glad to have been able to travel with this group today. Can’t wait for a new adventure tomorrow!
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