Court is now in session at this Miami-Dade middle school

State-of-the-art mock court unveiled to help students hone their legal studies

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Students at Brownsville Middle School in northwest Miami-Dade County now have a state-of-the-art facility to debate and defend their legal opinions.

Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, a member of the Miami-Dade County School Board, became emotional when she saw the completed courtroom at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday.

"Many of our kids see the other side of the courtroom. This time they have a head start. They know what they can do before bailiffs, attorneys and judges," Bendross-Mindingall said.

Starting in sixth grade, students can sign up to be part of the law curriculum.

When students graduate from Brownsville Middle School, they will have a head start on law careers. The students can continue their legal studies at any of the county's magnet high schools that specialize in law.

After the niceties, court was in session.

From security to weapons in school, U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke held court while students presented their cases Monday.

The law firm Hamilton Miller & Birthisel spearheaded the project, raising $180,000 in donations to make it happen.

"We want the kids to see their future in a legal profession and what their potential is all about," said attorney Marlon Hill of Hamilton Miller & Birthisel.

For aspiring attorney and Brownsville Middle student Chantrel Harris, the new courtroom was everything.

"When I go out to be a lawyer, I won’t be nervous as I am now," Harris said.