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Students try 'Jack' for crimes against giant

Posted: May 4, 2009 5:56 p.m.
Updated: May 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Kaylie Holland takes on the role as judge during Wiley Canyon Elementary School's mock trial of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Wiley Canyon Elementary School organized a mock trial on April 21 as a way for the students to become acquainted with the judicial system using familiar stories as a basis for their trial. The fifth- and sixth-grade Wiley GATE (Gifted and Talented) students based their case on the trial of "Jack and the Beanstalk." Jack Jones, or in the case this year, Jackie, is on trial for breaking, entering, theft and murder.

In the classroom, students learned about courtroom terminology and procedure; crimes and their penalties; and the roles of court personnel. At the courthouse, they conduct their actual trial with students as the defense and prosecuting attorneys. Students were given the opportunity to review their case and question the witnesses. They also made opening and closing statements to the jury.

The student witnesses for the trial included Martha Giant, wife of the deceased; Nora Jones, mother of the defendant; and Inspector Albert Morse, arresting officer. In addition, there is a student judge presiding, and a student bailiff.

The case was heard in front of a jury of students who were then charged with reviewing the evidence and arriving at a verdict. They were instructed on the requirements for reaching their verdict in the same way an actual courtroom jury is instructed. The student jury found Jackie not guilty.

The case was conducted in the courtroom of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Graciela Freixes at the Santa Clarita Courthouse. The students were required to follow the same procedures as an actual jury trial and were aided in their efforts by real court officials.

They were allowed full use of the courtroom.

In addition to helping with the mock trial, Freixes allowed the Wiley Canyon Court to arrive early to sit in and watch the judicial process in action while she conducts court. The students were able to view the workings of a real courtroom and then participate in the process with their own trial.


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