REDMOND — David and Andrew Doyle, a father-son pair of local attorneys, have won over their share of juries in important court trials, but a class of high school seniors at 7:30 a.m. put their skills to the test Tuesday. Although some of the Ridgeview High School seniors were wide awake, some were nodding off.
Andrew Doyle, Deschutes County deputy district attorney, jolted the seniors awake, though, with the story of his favorite jury trial. His client was charged with assault.
“Folks, I’ve done a lot of jury trials, and I’ve never gotten to say the following words,” Doyle recalled for the students, who had gathered to hear about the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which gives the right to a jury trial. “This is about a poop emoji pillow.”
For the record, he successfully defended his client, who had thrown the pillow at someone, and the seniors erupted with laughter.
The visit to Ridgeview was one of many school visits that local lawyers and judges have made and will make throughout September and October for the Constitution in the Classroom program, sponsored by the legal organization American Constitution Society. The program, which has continued for about 10 years, is meant to celebrate Constitution Day — held on Tuesday — and educate students on the Bill of Rights, according to Bend attorney Alycia Sykora, who locally organizes the program.
Sykora said having local lawyers and judges discuss the Constitution in schools throughout Central Oregon emphasizes the relevance of the document, particularly the Bill of Rights.
“The Fourth Amendment governs vehicle stops, blood draws for DNA searches. It governs Google searches,” she said. “When can your government look at your phone? When can your front lawn be trampled on by law enforcement?”
Ben Parsons, who teaches government at Ridgeview, said he’s had lawyers visit his classes for many years, and appreciates the different perspective on the Constitution and the legal process they provide.
“I think it’s important for students to hear from experts who aren’t just me,” he said.
David Doyle, a counsel for Deschutes County, said Constitution in the Classroom helps makes the 232-year old document, as well as the legal process, more tangible for teens.
“It can be distant and esoteric, … but (the program) personalizes it, takes it out of the book and makes it real,” he said.
The topic of nonunanimous juries also came up Tuesday at Ridgeview. Oregon is currently the only state that allows nonunanimous jury decisions.
Andrew Doyle told the class he thought that was “ridiculously unfair and unconstitutional.”
Aidan Marsters, a senior at Ridgeview, said he liked that the Doyles were blunt and honest about the problems they had with Oregon’s legal system.
“I thought it was eye-opening that actual lawyers said our system needs some fixing,” said Marsters, 17.
Near the end of his class visit Tuesday morning, Andrew Doyle emphasized the importance of students understanding the Constitution and the legal system.
“You guys are the future of America,” he said. “If you guys don’t learn about these topics … then democracy dies in darkness.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7854, firstname.lastname@example.org