Dayton residents Jack and Betty Cooke learned about the law first-hand from the likes of Supreme Court Justice Deborah Agosti, Assemblyman Bernie Anderson and local attorneys Charlie Kilpatrick and Bob Maddox.
The Cookes and another 110 people recently spent five Wednesday evenings soaking in the legal system at the People's Law School. School won't be in session for another year or two in Carson City but the most recent session is coming to local community access television.
The People's Law School airs at 6 p.m. Sundays and 1 p.m. Mondays on Channel 26 starting Nov. 14 and 15. The two and a half hour episodes will continue until Dec. 20.
"This gives you a good foundation of the law," said Jack Cooke, a retired 35-year Safeway employee. "The law is a part of everybody's life."
The Cookes lauded the user-friendly presentations of the People's Law School "faculty." Over the course of five weeks, the classes given at the Legislative Building covered introductions to the legal and legislative systems, personal injury, construction defects, elder law, divorce and community property, workers' compensation, employee rights, and criminal defense and prosecution.
"For me," Betty Cooke said, "they didn't use any legalese so I could understand what they were saying. I've enjoyed it. I didn't think I would because I can't sit still."
The People's Law School is put on once a year by the Nevada Trial Lawyers Association, a lobbying and public education organization. School sessions are in Las Vegas in even years and in the north in odd years with this September's session the second time the school convened in Carson City.
"The People's Law School is designed to familiarize people with our justice system, specifically Nevada Law," said Chrystal Main, the association's administration and communication coordinator. "As a result of attending the program, people have a better understanding of the legal system and their responsibilities.
"Our goal is to clarify much of the confusion and misinformation that people have about the practice of the law."
Based on what they learned at the People's Law School, Jack and Betty Cooke, both 63, said they would have handled matters much differently with the housing construction problems they have had since moving to Dayton in 1995.
"This class was very helpful because now we can foresee some of these things and we know where to go," Jack Cooke said. "If we would have taken this class before our problems, we wouldn't have joined prepaid legal. I would have written letters myself and have them notarized and sent them by certified mail."
Betty Maddox said People's Law School opened up a legal network for them.
"Now we can call Bob Maddox," she said. "He would have been able to tell us what to do. This teaches us to ask if contractors have a license and to ask to see it."
Jack Cooke added, "We had a handyman and I paid him in advance. If you don't learn anything else, you learn to never pay in advance."