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Court Oberservation Paper

1264 words - 6 pages

On March 14, 2014, I attended court from 10:15am to noon at the Clay County Court House. There I sat in on five different cases. The first case was a man named Luke Patrick Berg vs. State of Minnesota at 10:15am. He was pulled over for a DWI and was also charged with possession of marijuana, which was a gross misdemeanor. This case started off with just the two attorneys in court because Berg was late and they thought he was going to be a no show. Right away Berg’s attorney argued that she was not able to notify Berg when the courtroom case was going to start, so she asked Judge Michael Fritz to waive the warrant for his arrest until the next day, so he could have the rest of March 14 to show up to court. Judge Michael Fritz agreed to the terms, but just a few moments later Berg actually showed up. At that moment his attorney asked for a 28-day waiver for the pretrial to get ready, Judge Michael Fritz agreed and that was the final decision for the case that day. This case was interesting because I have never sat in a courtroom before and with Berg being late, I thought there would have been a more harsh punishment given to him instead of just being told to be on time from now on. After Judge Michel Fritz made his decision on Berg’s case he took some time to talk to me and two other students sitting in on the courtroom case, which was something I did not expect. We were able to ask him a few questions about what it is like being a judge and found out the he went to St. Johns, which is ironic because Concordia and St. Johns are good rivals in sporting events, so we were able to somewhat relate to each other and had a good respectable conversation.
The second case I attended was a hearing about dissolution of a child. The judge was Galen Vaa and the mother, Amanda O’Neill, was finalizing taking full custody of her daughter. The interesting thing about this case was that the father, Shawn O’Neill, was present in court over the phone, since he lived out of state and was not able to make the trip. The mother was agreeing to the terms of the dissolution and agreed to such terms as; not changing her or the child’s name, giving up alimony and was willing to let the father come see his daughter a few times a year. Also Judge Galen Vaa made clear, when the deal was finalized, that the mother could not come back to court later and ask for alimony or more money from the father. To finish off the case the father actually asked for paternity test, which was ironic because after Judge Galen Vaa told him that it would start this dissolution all over again, so the father changed his mind and just went with the terms. The final decision was the mother got full custody of her daughter and all of the terms were met. I also got to experience an unexpected last minute case too, that lasted about five minutes.
It was a mini-hearing to try to reopen a case against the defendant. There was not much information other than Judge Galen Vaa agreeing to reopen the case and...

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