By Michelle Connor, HMNS Scout Programs Manager
No they’re not in trouble, but in our Summer Scout classes you can find Scouts at the courthouse! For many of the scouts, HMNS Summer Scout classes might be their first trip to see a court proceeding. Both the Citizenship in the Community and Law merit badges attend criminal arraignment cases, which can be for theft, use of illegal substances, but most are for DUI’s.
Judge Jeffrey McMeans of Fort Bend County takes time to welcomed the Scouts to his court, explaining to the scouts the judicial system of Texas, describing the different levels and responsibilities of the various courts that exist in Texas. Judge McMeans outlined how judges are elected, their qualifications to serve, and the administrative components of the court system. Before they leave, Scouts have a better understanding of the court system and the role that citizens serve in the system.
Judge Jay Karahan of Harris County likes to have the scouts sit in the jury box or in the witness stand to watch the court arraignments, talking with the scouts about the cases that have been brought before him. Judge Karahan discusses the Unites States Constitution and the Scouts’ judicial rights, with regards to the Law Merit badge.
Citizenship in the Nation classes visit the Harris County 1910 Courthouse or the Old Fort Bend County Courthouse, both are on the National Register of Historic Places. Touring these former courthouses gives the Scouts a history of the early judicial system in these counties. Austin Martinez, a participant in the class last year, express the excitement of going through the metal detector to enter the courthouse, being able to explore the ground floor first, then going up to the second and third floors of the courthouse.
The Architecture Merit badge takes a different approach. Exploring the design of the buildings and seeing the distinctive architecture styles used throughout the buildings. Scouts will be taking a guided tour of the courthouse to learn about the architecture styles and the major restoration of the courthouse.
For the Scouts taking these merit badge classes at Hermann Park, the ride to and back from the courthouse is on the METRORail. Discussing with the Scouts about what they learned and discovered during their courthouse visit is always interesting, as they enjoy riding the train.