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Students learn law through mock trials
Jury sides against the Big Bad Wolf
mock trial 1 jd
Parker Echols performs as Curly Pig during a mock trial day for Matt Elementary students at the Forsyth County Courthouse. - photo by Jim Dean

 

On a recent afternoon in Forsyth County Superior Court, a local fifth-grader was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the death of an ogre.

Jack Robinson, played by Matt Elementary student Luke Bailey, admitted he had chopped down a beanstalk, causing the creature pursuing him to fall to its death.

A jury of his fellow classmates found Robinson guilty of second-degree intentional homicide as part of a mock trial exercise at the county courthouse.

The project, which included criminal and civil cases, helped students learn how a citizen’s rights are protected by the Constitution.

It also sharpened their oratorical skills, said Gina Thompson, one of the group’s teachers.

Superior Court Chief Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley, who presided over the proceedings, had visited Matt Elementary in January and discussed the history of the judicial system.

Thompson said the children voted on the cases they wanted to try in court and auditioned for the parts.

In the criminal case, Robinson’s attorney, Ally Austin, contended he was running for his life and that the ogre’s diet was known to include little boys.

Robinson told the jury he stole from the ogre because his family was poor.

“My mom made pancakes out of dryer lint,” he said.

The fifth-graders also put on a civil case, the Big Bad Wolf v. the Three Little Pigs.

B.B. Wolf, played by Matthew DeRusha, claimed that Curly Pig, brother of the previously devoured Larry and Moe Pig, attempted to cook and eat him.

The jury, unswayed by Wolf’s claims that he was merely coming to visit when he slid down Pig’s chimney, sided with Pig, played by Parker Echols.

Evidence presented in court showed that there had been a cauldron of boiling water at the bottom of the chimney and a cookbook was open to a wolf poaching recipe.

Bagley guided the students through their legal proceedings. He also explained the differences in civil and criminal cases.

“I hope y’all have learned a lot today about court process and court procedures,” Bagley said.

The children also got to visit Bagley’s office, where he gave each of them a pen encouraging them to “keep up the good work.”