***image1***Close to 300 fourth and fifth-graders pondered the case of “Humpty Dumpty” last week in eight mock trials at the Vogelweh and Kaiserslautern elementary schools.
The scripted criminal trials added a new twist to the familiar nursery rhyme, begging the question on how “Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.”
Directed by the 21st Theater Support Command’s Office of Staff Advocate, the trials were in observance of Law Day, which is May 1. Scripts were provided by the American Bar Association.
“Law Day is an opportunity for the attorneys and paralegals to show their communities what they do and how important the law is in our everyday lives,” said Capt. Desiree Helmick, the theater command’s claims OIC, who presided over the trials at the schools.
Students role-played the entire 45-minute trial, playing the judge “Mother Goose” and witness “Wily Wolf.” The actors in the seven roles had a script, but the 12-member jury was not privy to any information prior to the trial.
***image2***“The jury is going to come into the trial with a clean slate, exactly the same way we have our panel members who come into our trials, because the presumption is that the individual is innocent until proven guilty,” said Conchita Dunn, the theater command’s lead court reporter and who assisted with the trials at the schools.
Rebecca Scott, Vogelweh Elementary School fifth-grader, was a jury member for the first Mock Trial held April 17 at her school. The defendant, “Roy L. Kingsman,” was played by fifth-grader Todd Poynter.
“I’m a bit nervous because if he is innocent and we send him to jail that would be our fault, and if he’s guilty and we let him go free that would be our fault too,” said Rebecca, while the jury was waiting to enter the courtroom.
Witnesses for the prosecution were “Kirk Kingsman,” or Shabba Armbrister, and “Wily Wolf,” or Dequarius Baker. Todd took the stand in his own defense, but to no avail. After a 20-minute deliberation, the jury came back with a “guilty” verdict.
Todd reacted in true role-playing fashion with, “I don’t want to go to jail.”
After the trial, Captain Helmick discussed with the jury which facts helped them come up with their decision.
“They learned a lot about the judicial system, right and wrong, and how laws are applied to them,” said Sarah Wedlaw, VES teacher whose class participated.
Kaiserslautern American Middle School and high school students will also participate in Law Day activities with classroom presentations and an electronic-media contest.