Brewer Boy Scouts tour U.S. District Court

Posted Feb. 12, 2009, at 8:32 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Six Brewer Boy Scouts sat in federal court jury seats on Wednesday listening to U.S. District Judge John Woodcock tell them how he started as a local lawyer and eventually was appointed by the president as the region’s federal justice.

While Woodcock told his story, Mike Maybury, 11, a member of Troop 15, used the controls of the black leather seat he sat in to make it go up and down.

“It’s tall,” is how he reacted when he first walked into the U.S. District Court, located on the third floor of the Federal Building on Harlow Street.

“It’s big,” was how Nicholas Turner, 12, described the room. Turner and the four other Scouts are members of Troop 1.

The Boy Scouts met with Woodcock as part of their journey to earn the rank of First Class, Troop 1 Scoutmaster Rodney Hanson said.

“They have to talk with somebody who is an elected official or a judge,” he said.

Woodcock, who is a former First Class Boy Scout, readily agreed to give a tour of the court.

“One of the things about being a Boy Scout or a Girl Scout is it’s a mark of future success,” he told the Scouts.

Scout tasks demonstrate personal achievement and they are “goal-oriented,” Woodcock said, adding that “it was a great experience” being a Boy Scout.

Troop 1, which was chartered 99 years ago in Brewer on Oct. 25, 1909, predates the Boy Scouts of America by four months. The troop has eight chartered members and is planning an August trip to Washington, D.C., this summer to meet the new president and a 100th birthday party in October. Nicole Hanson is collecting memorabilia, photos and stories from former Scouts and their parents for brochures and displays of the collected items for the birthday gathering.

Also planned is a spring Camporee with Troop 15, Brewer’s other Boy Scout troop, which was organized in 1917 and now has 18 members.

Only one of the six Scouts had been in a courtroom before Wednesday. After explaining the differences between federal and state court, and criminal and civil court cases, Woodcock led the youngsters from the courtroom’s seating area into the well of the courtroom.

“This is called the bar,” he said, describing the short wooden wall separating where spectators sit during court, and the judge, court officials and the lawyers. “When you become a lawyer, you pass the bar.”

The Scouts sat in the jury seats, the witness stand and even Woodcock’s seat before being led out a side door and down a hall to his chambers, which consist of three rooms. The rooms were lined with law books that dated back to 1889.

“Those things are wallpaper,” Woodcock told the Scouts as he used his computer, which has two screens, to demonstrate how he gets the information he needs online.

“That’s cool,” one Scout said as the group crammed around the judge’s desk.

As the Scouts left the Federal Building, Hanson said he would be drilling them later about what they learned. In addition to Maybury and Turner, the other Scouts included Steven Loftin, 13, Mason Duplissie, 11, Dakota Shepley, 12, and Mike Viens, 14.

“That was fun,” Maybury said.

nricker@bangordailynews.net

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