Learning Center For the Kids (and Kids at Heart)
The interactive computerized exhibits include playing judge
or juror and hearing from judges about their experiences on the bench.
By JAMES CARLSON
Entering the expansive atrium of the new
Ralph L. Carr Judicial Center, you could easily miss a small gem tucked in the
corner. But that would be a mistake. In a grand courthouse filled with
beautiful art and architecture, the coolest part might just be the learning
Inside the room located on the ground floor
of the courthouse, children (and lawyers with a child-like awe for the justice
system) can play with interactive educational exhibits about the role of the
Visitors can view a short film in an
ultra-wide-screen theater demonstrating how America’s laws guarantee our
freedom and what life would be like without those rules. (The movie includes
some choice clips from Animal House and My Cousin Vinny.) There’s also a
kiosk allowing visitors to listen and watch judges talk about their
experiences. Judge Terry Fox of the Colorado Court of Appeals offers a
particularly inspirational tale of her journey from immigrating to the country
as a child to discovering a joy of the law.
Visitors also can act as a judge in a
simulated case by hearing evidence and deciding the outcome. And they can
experience what it’s like to serve as an attorney or juror. The outer wall is
ringed with a visual timeline of the state’s judicial milestones.
It’s important, said Justice Gregory Hobbs,
to illustrate the link between history and the law. “Everything
we do in law reflects the rules and customs of the people,” he said. “The
course of justice is the great cause of humanity.”
The center was planned from the early stages
of the courthouse construction process. Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice
Michael Bender appointed a committee to develop concepts. Those committee
members — Colorado Court of Appeals Chief Judge Janice Davidson and Supreme
Court justices Hobbs, Nancy Rice and Monica Márquez — along with staff members
spent a year designing the presentations.
The result of that work is seen clearly in
the center. As Chief Justice Bender put it during the building’s grand opening,
the edifice is not just a modern courthouse but also a “museum to the rule of
The learning center is free to the public
and open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Carlson is the Information Resources Coordinator with the Office of Attorney