Project REAL volunteers have led about 7,000 elementary, middle and high school students on state and federal court tours in Las Vegas during the past three years.
Saturday the tours will be offered to adults for the first time as part of a new program called “Your Day in Court.”
Judith Simpson, executive director of Project REAL, said a Saturday was chosen for the program to give participants the chance to interact with judges and other court personnel.
“That’s the whole purpose,” she said. “It’s ‘Your Day in Court.’ It’s your chance to find out how things work.”
Project REAL, which stands for “Relevant Education About the Law,” was started in 2005 by Las Vegas developer Irwin Molasky and Las Vegas lawyer Sam Lionel. The pair have provided up to $300,000 in funding for the project each year.
“Your Day in Court” will take place from 8:30 a.m. to noon and will include tours of the Regional Justice Center at 200 Lewis Ave. and the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse at 333 Las Vegas Blvd. South.
“We’d like to do this annually, if it works,” Simpson said.
Those who wish to take part should call 388-7527 to make a reservation.
The program will introduce various aspects of Nevada’s courts, including the state trial court system, bankruptcy court and the federal trial court system. Participants will have the opportunity to ask judges and other court personnel about their jobs.
Simpson said Project REAL hopes to introduce a new program called “Play by the Rules” in Las Vegas middle schools by early 2009.
She said Nevada was one of three states selected to expand the program, which was developed in Alabama. She said it is based on the concept: If you don’t know the rules, you can’t play the game.
Teachers and police officers will educate middle school students throughout the state about Nevada laws that pertain to them. The Justice Department is providing 50,000 books for the students, who will be allowed to keep them.
Simpson said Project REAL hopes to obtain additional funding to continue offering the program when those books run out.
“We’re always looking for dough — and volunteers,” she said. “All of our tour guides are volunteers.”
Simpson said Nevada Power provides buses for schools that participate in the court tours. “We couldn’t do that program without that grant,” she said.
Project REAL also offers REAL Theatre, which has performed a play dealing with immigration issues for 5,000 middle and high school students in Clark County. Immigration attorneys attend the performances and answer questions afterward.
Simpson said Las Vegas Academy students act in the play, called “Home Is Where the Heart Is … or Is It?”