“We have actors and actresses come in and play witnesses, so it really simulates a real trial .... They are given information to throw their questioners off in an attempt to be as real as possible.
“Students are required to be in courtroom attire, suit and tie, and are required to be there for every class. They’re expected to be prepared. I know they want to absorb as much information as possible, and we want to point them in the right direction.”
The prosecutor reports, “I went through a class as a student at the academy … One of the faculty members recommended me for a faculty role. A few years after that, I was asked to go through the training” to be an instructor. That was about a decade ago.
Hertel takes his faculty role seriously. “I think it’s something that is important. Getting an opportunity to shape and mold some of the newer prosecutors is a big deal. We take for granted what’s involved in trying cases and the advocacy in the courtroom. It’s not learned overnight. We need to teach these young people methods so they’re doing things the right way.
“I got elected very young. I needed guidance. This organization (NDAA) was there to help .... (and) I made lifelong connections with other students and faculty.”
He adds, “One of my co-faculty members was a supervisor in Cook County, Chicago, with 900 prosecutors. Another was from Los Angeles County, Calif., with 1,000 prosecutors and was head of a gang unit. They’re dealing with the most talked-about crimes in the country, and I’m from Ripley County, and we have three prosecutors.
“It’s daunting and an honor to teach with those people.
“I think giving back to the profession is important,” Hertel says of his role. Being a part of the academy “is something I’m passionate about. I believe the curriculum is set up in a way that gives young lawyers a method to trying cases.”
Diane Raver can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.