Monday, May 18, 2015

The Westminsters

We've been very busy...and apologize for getting behind in our blogs!

Friday and Saturday were days of Westminsters.

Friday- a visit to the Westminster Magistrate Court

Our guide (and former solicitor) JoAnn, explained the differences between solicitors and barristers, the various court levels in England, and the differences between District Court judges and lay judges. Then  we were able to enter several courtrooms to examine the different lay out of the courtroom, to see a panel of lay judges at work (albeit very slow and tedious work), and watch several cases being processed - including one defendant who shared the public gallery with us before being called forward.  This young lady was charged with 5 counts of assaulting a police officer as the result of an episode where she scratched, spit on, and headed butted 5 officers.  Apparently Constable Watson's continued reminders that they are 'nice police officers' is true as the officers in this incident handled the 'mentally ill' girl with care while she assaulted them in a tube stop, an ambulance, and the hospital.  The maximum punishment should she be found guilty of all counts - 6 months incarceration.  Quite an interesting real world comparison of the justice process.

Next Westminster - Westminster Palace (aka Parliament)

On Saturday, both CSC can groups started the day with a guided tour of Parliament. (As a side note, I think they would have gotten more out of the tour if we'd had a homelier guide!)  

Despite the distraction, we were able to learn about the role of the government in a monarchy and the division between the House of Lords and House of Commons.  I'm beginning to think that the lightbulb is coming on for some of the students and they are really beginning to see the origins of some of our practices in the U.S. 

Final Westminster (and my personal favorite) - Westminster Abbey

I first visited Westminster Abbey on one of my early trips to London, but became more interested in the building after watching Princess Diana's funeral at the Abbey on TV.  More recently, I watched as William and Kate were married there. It is certainly a place of both amazing joy and of great sorrow - a reflection of life really...that's why I paused to light a candle for the family of Ron Dorshorst who are certainly suffering at this difficult time, but I hope they will find peace in all the joy that Ron brought to those around him.  Love you guys!!

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