People’s Law School returns Thursday

Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong, members of the Randolph County Bar and the Randolph County Commission are offering a free opportunity to learn about the law through the Fourth Annual People’s Law School.

“We are excited to provide this opportunity to the public for a fourth consecutive year,” Wilfong said. “Attendance over the past three years has been outstanding, and the feedback we have received continues to tell me this was a program I needed to


The People’s Law School is a series of six weekly lectures on various topics of the law. Individuals are permitted to attend as many of the sessions as they wish, free of charge. At this time, 15 local lawyers, all five of Randolph County’s probation officers and each of the county’s three magistrates have volunteered their time to instruct courses covering the different topics or moderate the program.

“Although the participants won’t be tested or quizzed, I feel confident they will leave the program with a wealth of information about the legal system and the law,” Wilfong said.

These courses will be in the Randolph County Courthouse Courtroom every Thursday for six consecutive weeks, beginning on Thursday. Each session will begin at 6 p.m. and will conclude at 8:30 p.m.

A break will be taken mid-way through, and dinner will be provided. Wilfong is particularly pleased that this series of courses will again be offered at no cost to the participants.

“To be able to offer this service to the public, absolutely free of charge, we needed financial assistance from the Randolph County Commission,” she said. “Realizing the value of this program, and the thousands of dollars of time and knowledge being donated by the local attorneys, the commission has once again sponsored this program, so we won’t need to charge a registration fee. Our commission is very proactive when it comes to community education and outreach, and I appreciate the support I continue to receive from them.”

The first class, on Thursday, will cover “Drug Courts and Drug Abuse.” The Randolph County Probation Office will present these topics. Heidi Hawkins, chief probation officer, will serve as chair of the panel. Hawkins will be assisted by Probation Officer Keith Hopwood, Juvenile Drug Court Probation Officer Sherri Hulver, Probation Officer Jason Elmore and Adult Drug Court Probation Officer John Meadows. The first presentation will be moderated by the judge.

On Jan. 30, the People’s Law School will spend the evening discussing “Family Law.” This panel will be chaired by Scott A. Curnutte, Esq. and will include attorneys David W. Hart, Esq., Timothy H. Prentice, Esq. and Jefferson L. Triplett, Esq. The moderator for this presentation will be Magistrate Robert Elbon, Jr.

On Feb. 6, the People’s Law School will change gears and present “Property/Real Estate.” This presentation will be Co-Chaired by David H. Wilmoth, Esq., and Earl W. Maxwell, Esq. Assisting the chairmen on the panel will be Heather M. Weese, Esq., and will be moderated by Magistrate George M. Riggleman.

Phillip S. Isner, Esq. will be the chairman for “The Criminal Law” session on Feb. 13. On the panel will be Christopher W. Cooper, Esq., Raymond Lamora, III, Esq., and Dorwin J. Wolfe, Esq.. Moderating the session will be Prosecuting Attorney Michael W. Parker, Esq.

The People’s Law School will take up the issue of “Elderly Law/Wills and Estates/End of Life Planning” on Feb. 20. The chair of this panel will be Heather M. Weese, Esq. Panel attorneys will include John J. Wallace IV, Esq., and David W. Hart, Esq. This session will be moderated by Magistrate Ben Shepler.

For the last week of the People’s Law School, on Feb. 27, a mock trial will be presented. Those who attend will get to see, first hand, how the trial process works, as the attorneys and actors put on a play of a trial in the courtroom. Participants will include attorneys James E. Hawkins, Jr, Esq., Richard W. Shryock, Esq., Lori A. Gray, Esq., and Dwight R. Hall, Esq.

It is important to note that the purpose of the People’s Law School is to provide legal information to the public. The People’s Law School (and participating attorneys) cannot provide legal advice to the participants.

“The difference is best explained by the American Bar Association,” Wilfong said. “According to the ABA, ‘legal information is supposed to be general and not based on a specific set of facts. Legal advice is provided by a trained lawyer who uses his or her knowledge of the law to tell you how the law applies to your specific circumstances.’ You will not have an attorney-client relationship with these attorneys. Rather, they will be more of teachers of the general legal information.

“We are hopeful the public will again take advantage of these classes,” she said. “There are so many lawyers lined up to give their time and knowledge, free of charge, to assist in educating others on the law. We are proud that this has developed into an annual program.”

As seating is limited, it is important to pre-register. To pre-register for any of these sessions, or for more information, call Wilfong’s office at (304) 636-3815 and ask for Houston Darling.