Interview with Scott Jenny
Can you tell us a little bit about your practice and practice areas? How long have you been practicing law in Martinez?
I have been practicing eminent domain law in Martinez since 1993 when I first passed the Bar. I was hired by Cox, Garrett, Nagle & Lally.
How did you get involved with the Court Tour program?
I have two boys who ran through the entire school system in Martinez, and in elementary school (fifth grade) each of them took the Court Tour, and I was a chaperone on both field trips. So when the opportunity came up for me to give the tours as the guide rather than a parent, I jumped at the chance.
Can you outline a typical court tour for us?
A typical tour starts with the Deputy Sheriff/Ranger giving the kids a tour of the security system in the old courthouse. The kids get to see the x-ray machine and the video surveillance monitor and cameras. But the highlight is the box where they keep the confiscated weapons people have attempted to bring into the courthouse, including knives, knitting needles, brass knuckles, and a walking stick that turns into nun chucks.
Then we usually walk over to the jail garage and I explain to them how the double-locking garage doors prevent a mass escape from the jail buses. Then we go into the jail itself and (if the kids are lucky) get to see some inmates in their jumpsuits and irons. Their little faces light up then.
I give them quite a stern lecture about drugs, alcohol, and school while inside the jail, telling them how easy it is to get inside the jail: experiment with drugs and alcohol and drop out of school.
Next we go into the Bray Courthouse and watch about 20 minutes of an actual jury trial, hopefully something of a mid-level offense (burglary, drugs, etc.) and hopefully there will be some good physical evidence in the courtroom.
Then we end up by holding a mock trial where the kids themselves take on the roles of judge, DA, PD, bailiff, court reporter, clerk, defendant, witnesses and jury. The trial is scripted and the kids really get into it, especially when it is verdict time (usually a popularity contest).
If there is time I show the kids the bullet hole in the Bray building from the family court shootout, on the basement level. They all want to stick their finger in the hole, and do.
What’s your favorite part?
I get the biggest kick when we are standing on the steps of the old Taylor Courthouse. I have them look at the block walls on the exterior of the courthouse, then up under the eaves of the roof overhang, and I tell them that it is a little known fact that the entire courthouse is built out of giant concrete Legos.
Take a look, you’ll see what I mean. My hope is that they teach their own children that “fact.”
In your experience, which part do the kids like best?
The kids like the predictable stuff like the weapons box at security, the bullet hole, seeing an inmate in custody, and seeing the defendant in the jury trial.
What is surprising is how many of them are completely fascinated by the court reporter’s job, including the reporting machine and the transcription tape. I’ll get thank-you notes saying how they loved the weapons and the court reporting machine.
Do you have a favorite court tour story or memory you would like to share with us?
Once during the mock trial, the student playing the judge would use the word “executed” instead of “excused.”
So after a witness was done testifying, the judge would say “the witness may be executed.” I did not correct him because I have a strange sense of humor and enjoyed it from a trial attorney perspective.
What are your interests or projects outside the practice of law? Are you involved in any volunteer projects other than the court tour program?
I also have been helping coach the Martinez Alhambra High School Mock Trial team. The Mock Trial program is a wonderful program that always needs attorneys to help coach the kids and to act as scorers during the competition. Those kids, especially the pre-trialers (they argue constitutional pretrial motions), scare me sometimes, they are so well prepared.
Finally, out of curiosity, what’s the story behind the red jacket?
I enjoy a good, loud sportcoat (and shoes) and got a pretty good price on the red jacket from Jos. A. Banks several years ago. It was intended as a holiday coat only, but I soon remembered that the docents wore red jackets when my boys took the tours. So I am now able to wear the red jacket much more often during the year, a big plus on the red jacket amortization account.
I usually wear my Darth Vader tie with the jacket, except Christmas when it is the Grinch.
Filed Under: Pro Bono