Brewster County Law Appreciation Week

On May 4, students from Alpine, Marathon, and Terlingua high schools were chosen as jurors to decide the fate of Luke Skywalker.

When we last saw the Jedi knight, he was exiled on a seaside cliff—bearded and in a hooded robe like old Ben Kenobi. But unlike his Jedi Master, Skywalker, who famously fired the shot that destroyed the original Death Star, has now been charged with 1,179,293 counts of murder for the lives lost on the dwarf planet-sized galactic superlaser.When Rey, the scavenger-turned-Resistance-fighter of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, met Skywalker, she hands him his lightsaber—along with a court summons.

Of course, this isn’t the plot of the next installment in the Star Wars franchise; rather, this is the premise of a mock jury selection hosted by real-life Judge Roy B. Ferguson, of the 394th Judicial District Court in Brewster County.

Each year, the judge hosts mock jury selections during Jury Appreciation Week, which is the first week of May. High school juniors and seniors across far west Texas receive a summons to appear in court for questioning as possible jurors.

The goal: beefing up low jury turnout in a region of Texas where that number can be as scant as 15 percent, according to Ferguson. By introducing and familiarizing students with the jury system so that they aren’t afraid of the courtroom, they will be more likely to show up after receiving a summons, he said.