More than 20 high school students from all over Broward County were participating in a two-week youth justice program with the Broward Public Defenders office in Ft. Lauderdale.
Analya Sanchez is a student at North East High School.
“We went to court rooms and we went to actual trials so got a good feel for what we were doing.” Sanchez said.
At the conclusion of their two week long Summer Youth Justice Program they put together a mock trial. Diego Rodriguez had the closing arguments for the state in a case of an elderly woman whose house was robbed but was unable to identify the suspect because she did not have her reading glasses on.
“The only connection that Tony Grub had to the crime scene was a fingerprint on the candy bar so it was pretty hard to tie in all the evidence, but we made it work,” said Rodriguez.
They were in touch with the crime lab, Medical Examiner’s office, BSO, main jail, K9-Unit and bomb squad. Gordon Weekes is one of the many mentors in this program and says he’s impressed with the students.
“We’re always very surprised to learn or to watch these kids just blossom from children that didn’t think that they would be able to do all this in a short period of time to actually accomplishing and actually excelling,” said Weekes, Chief Assistant of Juvenile Division.
With a better understanding of how the justice system works many of the participants now see a future in law.
“I want to go to college. I want to go to law school and I want to go to a law school and eventually come into criminal law,” said Rodriguez.