Mock trial: State of Florida takes on Goldilocks

Lake OKeechobee News/Danika J. Hopper
Upthegrove elementary students participating in an educational mock trial at the Hendry County Courthouse.

LABELLE — At the Hendry County Courthouse last week, the young, beloved, and presumed innocent, Goldilocks was indicted on charges breaking and entering, theft, and criminal mischief. Papa Bear was brought to the witness stand as he described the what happened to a jury comprised of Upthegrove Elementary Students, during the educational mock trial.

Lake Okeechobee News/Danika J. Hopper
Jill Cabai, lead defense attorney for Goldilocks, discuses the case with the rest of her legal team during the mock trial.

Hendry County Judge Darrell R. Hill welcomed the boisterous young students into his court room, as he pointed out the various positions: court clerk, juror, bailiff, interpreter, prosecutor, and defense attorney. The students chose which area they wanted to represent, and excitedly gathered around the court staff and volunteers. The judge made sure to repeat that this was just a mock trial, and that it was all pretend, held in the interest of teaching the students about the way a courtroom works.

The mock trial began with students making their opening statements, as they went on to call both Goldilocks and Papa Bear to the witness stand.

Some children exclaimed, “She’s guilty!” as they seemed to have already made up their minds before all of the evidence had been presented.

“Remember, in our country, you’re always presumed innocent until proven guilty,” said Judge Hill.

Lake OKeechobee News/Danika J. Hopper
Upthegrove elementary students listen to Papa Bear as he takes the witness stand, in an educational mock trial at the Hendry County Courthouse.

The students were quite passionate and dedicated to their parts, asking questions and even issuing objections, as prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Closing statements were issued, and the jury handed down their verdict. Goldilocks was unanimously found guilty, as they children watched in excitement as their classmate-turned-bailiff handcuff the poor girl.

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