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District Attorney's Office Talks Amendments with Government Students

Trinity's Honors Government class enjoys visits from professionals in different offices on a regular basis. The opportunity to ask questions of experts in their fields is a wonderful extension to typical classroom discussion and truly augments their learning.

The most recent guest was Annette Peterson, Assistant Head Deputy at the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office in Pasadena. She is also a parent of a Trinity alum. 

Peterson discussed the 4th - 8th amendments and how they apply in real life situations. The 4th relates to the right of people against unreasonable search and seizure and the need for probable cause. She described a few real-life scenarios where probable cause would apply or not apply, and what constituted "reasonable" for search and seizure.

The 5th amendment is the right to not incriminate oneself, which includes the Miranda rights (the right to remain silent...and more...as given when one is placed under arrest). It also includes the right to due process and to not be tried twice for the same crime (double jeopardy). The example that a student brought up was OJ Simpson, and she pointed out that while he couldn't be tried twice criminally, there was a civil case brought against him. She also reminded them that even if evidence was discovered today that proved him guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt, he could not be prosecuted for it.

Students asked Peterson questions about prison, her cases, and the death penalty. They questioned how Miranda rights work in real life because they only know what they've seen on tv or movies. A delineation was made that Miranda rights only need to be read if one is in custody. If one is not in custody, authorities can ask anything they want as part of a casual conversation. 

The 6th amendment addresses the right to a speedy and public jury trial and the right to defense counsel. The 7th preserves the right to a jury trial and the 8th ensures that excessive bail cannot be set.

Live Q & A with a professional is a great way for students to engage with their education about our government and they always have thoughtful questions. Mrs. Peterson has been to Trinity a few times and we are grateful that she continues to enjoy coming to speak with our students.