Rendition of historic Smith Co. courthouse at Discovery Science - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Rendition of historic Smith Co. courthouse at Discovery Science Place

Released by The Discovery Science Place:

TYLER, TX - An unveiling and dedication of a scale rendition of the historic Smith County Courthouse is taking place at Discovery Science Place.

Through the generosity of Texas Bar Foundation, Smith County Bar Foundation, Wolf Benevolent Trust and an anonymous donor, the new courthouse exhibit will give children and their families a better understanding of the judicial system and their rights and responsibilities under the law.

"The exhibit is here by Discovery Science Place to help all children get familiar with the courthouse, and their civil rights and the jury process," said, Steve Manley, Children's Advocacy Center of Smith County.

Standing true to its mission, Discovery Science Place is working to continuously update its three exhibit galleries to genuinely ignite curiosity in young minds through fun, hands-on exploration. Today is the Cornerstone unveiling and dedication ceremony of the scaled version of the original Smith County Courthouse that will allow families an environment to explore and learn together about the judicial system and citizens' rights and responsibilities under the law.

Aside from educating children about the judicial system, the courthouse will also be used to help children build confidence before stepping inside a real courtroom.

"You can imagine the emotional distress a child goes thru from being abused well not far from that is going to be the prospect of going to court this allows us to educate the child about the environment they are going into and getting a little more comfortable in going thru the process of telling their story in front of the judge, 12 strangers and their alleged abuser," said Manley.

The courthouse exhibit includes interior space furnished with a judge's bench, witness stand, and attorneys' desks complete with experiential props (i.e. costumes, gavels, etc.). Displays inside the structure will include informational materials to educate on the judicial process, performing your civic duty as a juror and explanations of what the participants' duties are during a court session. It will also explain various sectors of the law that might be most directly applicable to children. This will help to educate museum guests on a variety of aspects of the legal process.

The historic courthouse replica will be used for other purposes as well. Discovery Science Place is creating unique partnerships with the Children's Advocacy Center of Smith County and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children) of East Texas to allow their exclusive use of the exhibit for their needs. These groups will have the opportunity to use the courthouse outside of regular museum hours. The goal of these partnerships is to provide a safe environment for children to be introduced to the judicial process, better preparing them for court appearances and ensuring confidentiality.

Mecca Design and Production, a leading event and trade show exhibit design group based in Dallas, was chosen to build the interactive courthouse for The Discovery Science Place in Tyler, Texas. The design is similar to the original downtown Smith County Courthouse, constructed in 1909.

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