H-ton Classes Visit County Arraignment Court

Huntington students and teachers at Suffolk County District Court.

January 06, 2017

Courtrooms handling arraignments are some of the busiest in the country. Huntington High School students discovered this when several dozen recently visited Suffolk County District Court in Central Islip to help them better understand the judicial process.

The Huntington students are enrolled in teacher Suzie Biagi’s Business Law class and teacher Erik Bruckbauer’s Criminal Justice course. “It was a great learning experience,” freshman Nick Lomler said.

Prior to embarking on the trip, arrangements were made with court officials for the Huntington contingent to maximize its learning experience. “The students were some of the lucky few to get to tour the courthouse and the prisoner lock up where the defendants are held until their arraignment proceedings,” Mr. Bruckbauer said. “The students sat in on some of those arraignments, listening to charges and observing the whole process, including the heartbreaking realities of family members trying to make bail for their loved ones or watching them be taken away.”

Located in the Cohalan Court Complex at 400 Carleton Avenue, the arraignment court is a wing of the criminal court division. The complex includes family court, criminal court, domestic violence court, drug court, mental health court, veteran’s court, State Supreme Court and traffic court.

The trip was thoroughly educational for the Huntington High School students. “It gave me insight into what actually happens when you get in trouble,” sophomore Justin Dolan said.

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The Cohalan Court Complex in Central Islip.

Each of the teenagers derived something different from sitting in the busy courtroom. “It was eye-opening to watch the judge set someone’s bail at $50,000,” junior Colby Martin said. “The family was sitting behind us and said they couldn’t afford that.”

This wasn’t some fictionalized or dramatic performance. This was the real thing. “You could hear a pin drop as one by one the newly arrested were allowed their time to be heard as they were represented by their personal attorneys or a Legal Aid lawyer,” Mr. Bruckbauer said. “As they faced their arresting charges, it was sobering to see the stark reality of the legal process with an upfront view.”

The Huntington teenagers won’t soon forget the day they spent in arraignment court. “The judge was very accommodating, allowing for questions from the students and making sure the attorneys that were present were loud enough for all to hear,” Mr. Bruckbauer said. “It was an experience that few high school students get to take advantage of.”

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