There was no order in Wyandot County Common Pleas Court Tuesday morning. The rowdy bunch could be heard throughout the third floor of the courthouse as Judge Kate Aubry welcomed Carey Elementary School third graders into her courtroom to learn about the judicial process.
“The teachers called and said we’d like to bring a class into the courthouse and into the courtroom,” Aubry said. “When you get younger kids you think, ‘What can they do in the courtroom that will be meaningful and yet fun and educational too?’ So, I developed a little trial that they could put on where they could learn the different roles people play in the courtroom and get some ideas about how the justice system works.
“We also give them a little idea about the historical facts behind this building and this courtroom,” Aubry added.
After listening to Aubry talk about the history of the courtroom, the students’ took over. Aubry shared her bench with Noah Black, who donned a robe and pounded the gave to call the court to order for a mock trial. Prosecuting and defense attorneys, a court reporter, witnesses and a jury all were put into place. The students were all abuzz when they learned that their teacher, Karen DeAmicis, would be standing trial for stealing a pack of gum from a student’s desk.
“In third-grade social studies, we study Wyandot County and so we came to visit our justice system,” DeAmicis said.
Aubry prepared a script and the students stayed in character, reading their lines and acting out their parts. Black swore in witnesses, who took the stand where they were questioned by the attorneys as the student jurors looked on from the jury box.
“It’s always interesting,” Aubry said. “I’m amazed. These are third graders, but they really are grasping some good constitutional law principals.”
After a short deliberation, the jury was divided in the case against DeAmicis, but they played out the different scenarios of guilt and innocence. Bailiff Allison Greider was all smiles as she handcuffed DeAmicis.
“I want them to think about justice and how it’s delivered and how it comes about, and what’s right and what’s wrong and what they should consider when coming to decisions,” Aubry said.
The students all were allowed to explore the courtroom, many flocking to the bench and tapping on the keys on the court reporter’s machine. The students had smiles on their faces and candy in their hands as they filed out of the courtroom at the end of the 45-minute session.
“I really liked it,” said 9-year-old Megan Trausch, who played the role of a witness. “It was fun.”
It was the first time in a courtroom for 9-year-old Brady Curlis.
“I got to be on the jury,” Curlis said. “It was kind of hard making the decision.”
By CHANDA NEELY