PROVO Never before have visitors to 4th District Court begged to be handcuffed.
But the 120 fifth-grade students from Legacy Elementary were clamoring for the chance to be shackled, hands and feet, and stand in front of Judge Lynn Davis as he explained the judicial process during their school field trip.
"I'm dealing with ugly things all day long in terms of felony cases," Davis said, holding up his calendar from Wednesday, with its 75 cases of burglary, theft, assault, criminal mischief, rape, sexual assault, forgery. "Sometimes we think in this valley that we don't have any problems whatsoever. We do have a low crime rate, but yes, we do have crime in our community."
After filling the attorney and jury seats with eager volunteers, Davis asked if anyone had visited court before.
Two students said they had each visited when their parents adopted a younger brother or sister. One boy said he came for a Boy Scout trip.
"If somebody becomes an Eagle Scout, I rarely see them in felony court," Davis told the group. "They're good citizens. They stay out of court."
But what happens when someone isn't a good citizen?
"Is there a trouble-making boy?" Davis asked with a chuckle, and in the back, Kincade Hallock's hand shot up.
He came forward and Utah County Sheriff Deputy Chris Miller locked him into chains and handcuffs around his waist, legs, hands and ankles.
Davis called another student to be Hallock's attorney, and the two stood at the podium.
"Can you play basketball with that on?" Davis asked the chained boy. "Could you run the 100-yard dash that way? Why not?"
"'Cause it's hard to," Hallock said, wiggling the chains.
"You lose your freedoms when you break the law, that's what it means," Davis said. "If you stay out of trouble, you'll be OK. But if you ... get involved in drugs, thefts, driving under the influence of alcohol, I guarantee you some day, you're going to be right there in leg irons and handcuffs, and you don't want that."
Davis explained that as a judge, his job is to protect the Constitution and impose sentences of jail or prison.
"What's the difference between jail and prison?" one girl asked from the front row.
Davis thanked her for the good question and explained that jail is for lower, misdemeanor crimes while prison is for violent or repeat offenders who commit felonies.
The students were quite enthralled with the security aspect of the court and frequently asked if Davis had ever been threatened or attacked by a defendant.
Yes, he's pushed the emergency button under the bench, and yes, he's been threatened, but no, no one has ever physically attacked him.
Davis had the children rotate through the jury and attorney seats, as well as the chained defendant, and several even put on his robe and sat in his seat.
A student in the back asked Davis if he had to be "hard on people."
"I try to be merciful," he said. "You have to balance mercy and justice. I have to be, not harsh, but I have to apply the law and protect society. Sometimes the protection of society outweighs the individual interest of someone who has been accused."
The field trip accents the students' government unit and brings the judicial branch to life.
"It was fun," students Brooke Greening and Sarah Ashby said of the trip."It would be scary if you were really in it," added classmate Neisha Johnson.
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