Transitioning now, from the past four weeks of courtroom pleadings and testimony, to actual letters. Received by me. From fifth and sixth grade students who attended programs I presented in their schools or actual sessions at the courthouse.
“Dear Judge Fleming, Thank you for letting me and my friend come into your quarters and talk to you and learn about what you do, even if it wasn’t much.”
“I enjoyed you talking to us about alcohol. I didn’t know it affects your brain. That’s why I would never drink. It would probably taste nasty anyway.”
“I would like to thank you for coming and showing us how your court is handled. It gives you an ‘in your face’ check on how life really is. I know now I will take great thought in driving because I don’t have a job and I don’t have money to throw away.”
“Thank you for coming to the sixth grade to talk to us. I learned that before you do something wrong, think it over.”
“Hi … I am 12 years old and I thought what you said to us was great! I have had strawberry daqueries [sic] and a sip of beer. My mom said I could have a sip of beer when I was 11. I didn’t like it. I guess I only like frozen drinks. So that’s good I guess. I don’t plan on ever geting [sic] drunk. In fact I don’t plan on ever drinking even one beer or anything. I must attmet [sic] I will drink daqueries [sic] and frozen drinks, but I have a lot of self-control.”
“I really want to thank you for coming to our school to talk to us. It was much more enjoyable than I thought it would be. In fact, it was great! Except for the dressing-up part. I really don’t mind wearing nice clothes, it’s wearing dress shoes that bother me [sic].”
“I really enjoyed your presentation about drugs and beer. My favorite part was when you related your presentation to basketball. I also enjoyed the clips off TV shows.”
“I thought it was good of you to come to our school even though I won’t drink and drive.”
“I think your presentation was great and you spoke well, too.”
“I just want to say thank you for being available to come to our school and giving us your number to call you. You looked nice yourself.”
“Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to come to our school for one hour and ten minutes. P.S.S. – Don’t hope that I call your number because I don’t want to be in a problem where I will have to.”
“I learned what Risk Analysis is. It is a process of asking yourself questions to figure out if you should do something or not. Another thing I learned was that you may think someone is very nice and would never harm you, but that sometimes can turn out to be wrong. That person may turn out to be a cold-blooded serial killer and you don’t know it. Well, thank you again for coming to our classroom.”
Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.