Court held in classrooms |

Court held in classrooms

Criminal justice program starts this spring at CMC

Zach Fridell
Local attorney Jeff Weeden will be teaching Introduction to Criminal Justice at Colorado Mountain College in the spring.
John F. Russell

To register

Registration for CMC classes continues after winter break, Jan. 5. Students can register by visiting the main desk in Bristol Hall at the campus on Bob Adams Drive. Call 870-4444 for details and information. Classes begin Jan. 12.

— When Jeff Weeden was asked to teach criminal justice at Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus, he thought of what made a good instructor: a multi-faceted, engaging approach and a love for the topic.

It didn’t hurt that Weeden is a local attorney who can use his Steamboat Springs experience and connections to create a hands-on class for an Introduction to Criminal Justice program.

Weeden, who will become an adjunct instructor for the campus in the spring semester, is teaching the first course in what administrators hope eventually will grow into an Emphasis on Criminal Justice program.

After Weeden’s initial foray into the program with classes starting in January, Jason Lacy, who works with Weeden at the Steamboat firm of Feldmann, Nagel and Associates, LLC, will pick up additional courses to expand the program. Weeden focuses on criminal law; Lacy works primarily with corporate law.

Assistant Campus Dean of Instruction Anita “AJ” Janis said the program could lead to careers as a paralegal, parole officer or police officer but is not specifically aimed at law enforcement personnel.

“If people don’t have experience with the system, this is an eye-opener,” Janis said.

Weeden said he would like to make the class into an engaging experience by inviting local legal professionals into the class to speak, as well as by using multimedia to bring students’ attention to the topics at hand.

“There are a lot of ways to slice this topic,” he said. “We’re going to be coming at it from every possible angle.”

Weeden will prepare an original curriculum for the class under the framework provided by the requirements of the Colorado Community College System.

Because the class is based in the same town that Weeden practices law, he said he hopes to build relationships with local law offices and figures, including his own firm. Weeden said internships and shadowing opportunities will be a part of the curriculum, if not in the first introductory class, then later in the program.

One of the speakers Weeden hopes to bring into the class is Deputy District Attorney Carl Stahl, who spent the first 23 years of his career as a defense attorney before moving to the public defender’s office.

Stahl said one of the first things he would like to do when he speaks to the class is remove some misconceptions students have about the legal system.

“A lot of people, because of television, primarily, and movies, have a somewhat skewed and unrealistic view of the criminal justice system,” he said. “It’s always good to have some local institution of learning with a program. It provides the people, even those who don’t become professionals in the field : an inside insight into what really happens.”

Weeden and Lacy come from families of educators, and Weeden said instructing has been a lifelong passion he now is able to pursue. His previous experience in teaching was limited to substitute teaching in business law classes.

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