How do the Courts Work?

By Erin Barcaskey

The Judicial Branch at Youth in Government is rather varied in regards to the structure and nature of the work performed, especially compared to the work done in the legislative branch during Model Assembly. Many delegates who do not attend Model Assembly in eighth grade do not know much about the court system because they have not had a chance to view trial, appellate, or Supreme Court cases. Judge Rachel Larson, from the Eagan Delegation, applied for the position of Appellate Court Judge at Model Assembly last year, and was called in May to confirm that she was appointed. New delegates Manu Padma and Haley Kaul are partners in the Court of Appeals, and Lulu Qian, a returning delegate, is also participating in Court of Appeals.

Judge Larson explained exactly how the Appellate Courts work, stating that the Appellate Courts are the next step from trial courts. She explained under which circumstances it is acceptable to appeal your case to the Appeals Court in the real judicial branch, stating “if a person is unhappy with the outcome of their case and believes that the outcome is wrong due to false judging or [false interpretation of] the law, they appeal to the Appeals Court.” In order to appeal a case, the appellate and respondent must both file briefs and the appellate must file a rebuttal brief. At Model Assembly, delegates in ninth and 10th grade sign up for Court of Appeals if they want to be in the Judicial Branch, whereas delegates in 11th and 12th grade are members of the Supreme Court if they choose to be members of the courts.

As a sophomore, Judge Larson was eligible to apply to be an Appellate Court Judge, and she was interested in the position “because last year when I was judging as a delegate, I really enjoyed it, and I wanted to pursue that [interest] further by becoming a judge this year, and taking that opportunity to judge every day.” She is planning to continue her YIG experience in the courts because she finds that the courts spark her interest and give her knowledge and skills that she can apply in the future.

Other sophomores, Padma, Kaul, and Qian, are also in the Appellate Courts. Padma, a new delegate, commends delegates for being “knowledgeable about the way things worked [in the courts]. Delegates were really helpful, and when I walked into the court case, there wasn’t anything new or odd, or unexpected.”

Qian explained the basics of trial court, stating “the day you present, there is a prosecution and a defense. The prosecution has to prove everything beyond a reasonable doubt, which is why prosecution is usually harder.” When asked about her favorite part of participating in the courts, Kaul replied “I like the fact that we get to argue the case instead of learning it about it in a class, which makes the information more firsthand. I don’t really have a favorite part, I enjoy it all.”