In addition to his duties as Ripley County prosecutor, Ric Hertel is also a faculty member for the inaugural class of the National District Attorneys Association National Criminal Justice Academy at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, Salt Lake City.
The academy “used to be housed in Columbia, S.C. .... About four years ago, federal prosecutors took that facility over completely .... Since then, there has been an ongoing search to find a new facility for state prosecutors to train state prosecutors. It worked out with the University of Utah because we are provided with courtrooms, where prosecutors can participate in mock cases.
“A lot of prosecutors’ offices don’t have the ability to send prosecutors to training, but this is funded federally and is a win-win situation,” he notes.
About five weeklong trial advocacy classes will be held each year. Prospective students fill out applications. “It’s very, very competitive.” Those taking the course have a range of experience from one to three years, so “they’re pretty new prosecutors.”
There were 30 students and nine faculty members participating in the initial class at the beginning of March, he reveals. “In the class I taught, some were in new careers at ages 40-50, and some were 27 and recently out of law school. It was a very diverse group.”
Students receive a lot of hands-on experiences in the courtroom. They give an opening statement, do an examination of a witness and cross examination, question a police officer and have a closing argument. All of this is videotaped. Then “we critique each person and tell them things they are doing well and what they need to work on.
“It’s really painful when you see yourself on tape, but it’s all part of the learning process,” the Batesville resident points out.