Mock Trial, Judges Teach Students About American Justice – Chico Enterprise Record


CHICO – Beth Geise’s fifth grade students at Hooker Oak Elementary School received a live zoom presentation from Jesus Rodriguez, Supreme Court Justice of Butte County and Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, Supreme Court Justice of California, about Zoom before they Participated in a simulated witch trial in Salem on Monday.

Students studying the three branches of American government, including the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, were allowed to dress up and have the experience of participating in a “trial” and listening to a judge and the judiciary rather than just reading books about it.

“What an honor and privilege to have a Butte County Supreme Court judge here today, as well as a California Supreme Court judge zooming in to teach my fifth graders the importance of our democracy, but also improve life skills, who are so important to the Hooker Oak School and their lives, ”Geise wrote in an email. “To be a judge or a judge, as my students now know, requires perseverance, integrity, responsibility and kindness. You saw that firsthand today. “

The judges’ presentation was made possible by Judges in the Classroom, a program that brings California teachers together with judges who can visit their K-12 classrooms to assist students with issues related to justice, the constitution, the rule of law, and related topics to be. according to The program started in 2017 in San Diego.

In his lecture, Cuellar spoke about the work of lawyers and judges and explained aspects of the judiciary in his lecture. He asked the children questions such as, “How many cases are tried in the California state each year?” And answered questions from the students. One student asked what Cuellar thought about people found guilty and whether he was considering other professions.

Cuellar laughed and said when he was little other kids his age said he should become a lawyer because he liked to argue.

Cuellar said thousands of cases are brought to the California Supreme Court each year, but only about 100 are selected for judges.

Students asked both lighthearted and serious questions about what Cuellar liked best and whether he enjoyed eating hot pockets.

After Cuellar’s presentation, he stayed online to view the mock trial. Several students played the various roles in the courtroom and some even donned the role. They read their parts from two different scripts for sham experiments.

Bronwyn Deuel, who played Abigail Williams, one of the witchcraft accusers in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 during the mock trial, enjoyed playing her part.

“The experience was exciting and it was an honor to show Judge Rodriguez and Judge Cuellar our trial,” said Deuel.

John Chamberlin, who played the clerk, said, “I was happy to meet a judge and judge today. I learned that there was originally no jury in the Salem witch trials. “

Lona Hubbard played Sarah Good, one of the women accused of witchcraft. Hubbard wore an old-fashioned red dress and was handcuffed and she carried a mole.

“I found it interesting to see how unfair trials were in 1692 compared to how our judicial system works today,” said Hubbard.

Khloe Edwards played the judge in the mock trial. She was dressed in black and wore a curly white judge wig.

“Being a judge is fun! From that experience I learned that judges are very different today than they were in 1692, ”said Edwards.

Rodriguez was selected for the presentation on Monday as he was scheduled in 2020 but was unable to attend classrooms due to COVID-19. Rodriguez has been a judge for four years and has presented in eight different classes.

“It’s a great experience for the children. You don’t hear about a judiciary every day. It’s really rewarding for the kids and also for the judges. We meet future jurors, ”said Rodriguez.

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