JUDGE RUCKER SMITH SPEAKS AT SUMTER COUNTY MIDDLE SCHOOL
Jeannie Stanfield's combined eighth grade reading classes read "Monster" by Walter Dean Myers. As a culminating activity, Judge Rucker Smith spoke to the students on legal issues concerning the book and answered their varied questions. Judge Smith used this sharing session to share many legal terms that students might not understand or face in the future. "The purpose of the court is to encourage people to get along better," said Judge Smith. He then explained the terms jurisdiction, defendant, prosecution, jury, trial, first and second degree murder, district attorney, venue, felony, misdemeanor and other terms found in the judicial system and his courtroom.
In the class-read book, "Monster" is what the prosecutor called 16-year-old Steve Harmon for his supposed role in the fatal shooting of a convenience-store owner. But was Steve really the lookout who gave the "all clear" to the murderer, or was he just in the wrong place at the wrong time? In the book by Walter Dean Myers, the reader becomes both juror and witness during the trial of Steve's life. "The appearance and response to questions from our classes did enlighten these students as to the causes and possible rulings in our courts. In his formal robe, Judge Smith seemed to enjoy the inquisitive nature of class questions," said Mrs. Stanfield.
There are 16 Superior Court Judges in Georgia. Judge Smith presides in Sumter, Stewart, Webster, Schley, Macon, and Lee counties. When asked about his experience with criminal cases, Judge Smith said, "I have probably tried over 500 armed robbery cases and 1000's of cases in total. Our world is changing and we must make ourselves of these changes."
Judge Smith shared that he had 19 years of education to become a lawyer and judge. "I am a product of Americus. I went to Furlow Elementary School, Rees Park School, and Americus High School. I then attended Florida on a debating scholarship. I then went to law school for three additional years," said Smith.
Picture left to right is: Cecil Williams, Jevon Goober, Tyshika Tolbert, Judge Smith, Mrs. Stanfield, and Destiny Reynolds.