Judge Mike Binkley had a bit of a different setup Thursday morning, reading the Williamson County civil motion docket from the stage of Ravenwood High School.
The stage created a mobile courtroom of sorts, one traveling around Williamson County Schools for U.S. government students to get a glance of what it’s like inside a courtroom.
“This is going to be fun,” Binkley said from the bench on stage. “Highly unusual, but fun.”
On the docket Thursday morning, students watched the City of Franklin argue a case revolving around the right-of-way near the Berry Farms development. It primarily handled the issue of a median and construction along Lewisburg Pike.
“The idea developed from our desire for a Williamson County school to participate in the SCALES project,” WCS Curriculum K-12 Social Studies Specialist David Rector said. “We tried to get accepted but that didn’t pan out. The idea of a Mobile Court evolved during a conversation I had with the judge. He really wanted students to visit his courtroom to see how the judicial branch operates on a local level.
“He often says he is a ‘frustrated teacher at heart.’ Local courtrooms are too small to accommodate most of our schools, so we decided to bring the court to the schools. What the students will witness ties in well with the U.S. government state standards over local and state government, as well as the criminal justice course.”
They also caught a glimpse of an imminent domain case, which peaked the interest of senior Bailey Barker.
He said he found the courtroom a bit normal for him, but not because he had been in trouble himself. This summer, Barker interned with Judge Linda Johnson with courts in downtown Nashville. Barker plans on majoring in political science and business so he could go into international relations.
And while he learned a lot from that experience this summer, Barker said he enjoyed getting a closer look at civil court within the walls of his high school auditorium.
“It was interesting, because I haven’t really been familiar with the civil courts,” he said. “I learned a lot about imminent domain. Our property on Concord Road – when they went through to make it a three way or a four-lane road – they took some of our property and they paid us for it. I never understood why, but I was able to get a grasp of it.”
Barker said it also related to what he was studying inside the classroom, because it was more toward to what lawyers do and the laws themselves, which is what he witnessed Thursday.
“It really connects well,” he said. “[Our teacher] typically never misses anything.”