Students acquit ‘criminal’ during mock trial

Martha-Rocio Gil-Osorio assumes the role of a defense attorney and questions Dalienne Landers, who portrays defense witness Dr. Avery Atkinson as bailiff Danielle Pruiett watches. - Spencer Webster
Martha-Rocio Gil-Osorio assumes the role of a defense attorney and questions Dalienne Landers, who portrays defense witness Dr. Avery Atkinson as bailiff Danielle Pruiett watches.
— image credit: Spencer Webster

Casey Campbell stood accused of planting a bomb at his school. And the longtime target of schoolyard bullies was now in the sights of the justice system.

Campbell faced not only a jury of his peers, but a courtroom filled with them. The fictional character took center stage at a recent mock trial at Bayview School.

Students from Contemporary World Issues and U.S. History Class portrayed a variety of characters — from the defendant, to judge, jury and attorneys — during the school’s annual mock trial. It was held last month in the Front Room at the Bayview Cash Store.

The trial was a larger part of a hypothetical criminal case that made the justice system more real for the students by allowing them to participate in the case rather than simply reading about one.

The case and others like it were created by the Constitutional Rights Foundation. The foundation, based in Los Angeles, Calif. is a nonprofit, non-partisan, community-based organization dedicated to educating students about the importance of civic participation in a democratic society.

“Mock trials are an excellent way for young people to learn about, in this case, the criminal justice system, pre-trial hearings and how the courts work,” said Marshall Croddy, program director for the Constitutional Rights Foundation.”

“It gives a really realistic understanding of what goes on in a courtroom, not just the process but the intellectual pursuit of justice,” he said.

The “People vs. Campbell” case posed the question of whether the state’s fictional law against violent video games violated the First Amendment to the Constitution.

While some Bayview School students began researching their roles, others opted to create a video that served as a kind of prologue to the mock trial. They then posted it on YouTube.

The video, which begins with a darkened scene where disembodied hands pour a thick clear liquid into a jar, shows the progression of a police investigation after the bomb’s discovery by Detective Rorey Riley.

At the end of Riley’s investigation, Campbell was arrested for possession of a violent video game and the chemicals used to manufacture a bomb.

Students prepared the defense and prosecution arguments for the case, said Bayview School director Scott Mauk.

“There was also a pretrial hearing based on a First Amendment challenge to a fictional California statute barring the sale and possession of video games of school violence,” he added.

The defendant, portrayed by Tommy Morgen-Burke, was accused of planting a bomb made of doxene and paint thinner.

“A victim of bullying by a group of students, the defendant used the Internet to post violent images,” Mauk added.

Judge Mimi, portrayed by student Shandon Holbron, heard the case from other students playing prosecuting attorneys.

They worked hard to convict the defendant, Mauk said. But in the end, a jury of Bayview students acquitted the defendant of three different counts, including terrorism and attempted murder.

“The students had a terrific experience, saying it was one of the most fun and interesting learning experiences in their high school careers,” Mauk said. “Many students will use the work from this project as a keystone artifact for their exit portfolios, a graduation requirement at Bayview School.”

The student who portrayed the alleged criminal said he learned a lot from his experience.

“It was very intense. You had to learn everything really fast, then you had to get prepared,” said Morgen-Burke. “Then there were lots of people watching when we were doing it.”

Students involved in the mock trial included Jordyn Haimes,

Seth Slater, Monica Hudziak, Carrie Garrison, Andy “Boomer” Weiner, Kelsey Matzen, Danny Bentley, Chantell Boyle, Violet Weishaar, Martha-Rocio Gil-Osorio, Briana Pinckert, Tommy Morgen-Burke, Dalienne Landers, Wes Blackford, Zach Nollan, Shandon Holbron and Danielle Pruiett.

Spencer Webster can be reached at 221-5300 or swebster@south

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