ROANOKE (WSLS10)-- More than 100 million new cases go before local courts across the country each year. Tonight, people in the Roanoke Valley are getting a behind the scenes look at how the local court system works.
This is the 7th year for the You and the Law program. Tonight's session will focus on circuit courts and trial by jury.
"People are interested in what we do," says Roanoke City's Judge Jacqueline Talevi. "So sometimes they can be afraid, maybe they committed a crime or may have gotten a traffic summons. I think there's a lot of curiosity about what the court does and a lot of interest about what the court does."
Those questions will all be answered as the course covers everything from jury selection to the Grand Jury process. There will even be a mock trail, where people attending the program will be selected as jurors to hear two real lawyers argue their case.
"When you come for this program, it's like you're coming through a regular day in court," says attorney at law, Tom Miller. "You will go through the security process and be expected to act like you would in a regular court day setting."
That security process means no phones or cameras-- so leave those behind, they won't be allowed inside.
TV shows, movies and documentaries about court proceedings can also lead to confusion. Judge Taleiv says court dramas have led to increased curiosity, but not always in a good way.
"I go into schools and participate with the Roanoke bar and Rule of Law project," she says. "Often times classes will ask me, 'Are you like Judge Judy?' I say, 'No, my courtroom is a sober place to be, where people could go to jail. It's very important that I'm serious because the matters before me are quite serious.'"
One of the biggest misunderstandings the program will address tonight is what the Circuit Court Clerk's office can and cannot do. Often times, people who have been accused of a crime or are scheduled in court will try to get legal advice from the clerk's office, which is not allowed. People will head to the courthouse and begin asking questions that they should really be contacting a lawyer about.
Tonight's session is free to attend, but registration is required. Click here to learn more about the event and how to register.