Fifth graders debate Goldie Locks' guilt in mock trial - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Fifth graders debate Goldie Locks' guilt in mock trial

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Judge Willem Porter presided over the trial Judge Willem Porter presided over the trial
Empty porridge bowls were admitted into evidence as clerk, Henry Leef, listens to the case. Empty porridge bowls were admitted into evidence as clerk, Henry Leef, listens to the case.
Goldie Locks, Matti Rawlings, sits with her counsel, Justin Webster. Goldie Locks, Matti Rawlings, sits with her counsel, Justin Webster.
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"All rise," the bailiff's small voice rang out as the young judge made his way to the bench.

The prosecutor and the defense counsel watched as the jurors entered the room and filled their respective seats.

Goldie Locks sat down with her counsel, wondering which way the verdict would fall, as the three bears were called in succession to the witness stand.

No, this isn't a real trial.

However, this mock trial may have given Overbrook Elementary School fifth graders a good understanding of the inner-workings of the criminal justice system.

Before the trial, Kanawha County Circuit Judge Carrie Webster gave a short lesson and quizzed kids on the criminal justice system, explaining the roles of jurors, and court terms such as burden of proof, mistrials and contempt of court.

"You have to be fair and impartial," Webster told the kids. "That's the theme today."

Overbrook Elementary School teacher Eleanor Bowles said it is the first — and she hopes it isn't the last — mock trial her class has produced.

"Judge Webster's nephew, (Goldie Locks' counsel), is in our class. We had a special invitation to come here to do this," Bowles whispered as her students recited their lines. "We've been working on it for a month, auditioning for parts."

The mock trial is based on materials from the American Bar Association. Students had two options — the three bears or the three little pigs v. the big bad wolf.

"These fairy tales are familiar and when you're young, you don't think of someone as being innocent," Bowles explained. "You think of them as being guilty."

So did the jury find Goldie Locks guilty of bad manners?

After admitting empty porridge bowls into evidence and hearing Goldie Locks testify that she knew Baby Bear, saw the door was ajar and fell asleep while waiting for the bears to return, there was a hung jury.

Kids who wanted to convict her argued that no one should break into someone's house, eat porridge, break a chair and sleep in someone's bed without permission.

However, those who argued her innocence took her age into consideration, saying since she was in preschool, she probably didn't know any better.

"I want them to learn how the court system works and especially the jurors to know this is a civic duty that is important to this state and country," Bowles said. "I want them to know that if they are chosen, this is an important role. I also want to spark some career interests."