CHRIS JENNINGS/HERALD DEMOCRAT
Hannah Potamov takes notes as Ben Cole gives the prosecution’s opening statement to the jury assembled at the Grayson County Courthouse Friday in Sherman. The trial was a class exercise done by Gunter Middle School students.
The girl in the bright red cape said her name was Scarlett as she took a seat in the west courtroom at the Grayson County Courthouse Friday morning. She was there to tell the court all about the Big Bad Wolf.
In the seats around her, young people her age craned their necks to hear, and more of them filled the seats at the counsel tables, the jury box and the judge’s bench.
Children from Gunter Middle School’s sixth grade put the skills they had learned while reading novels and writing papers to work Friday as they staged mock trials based loosely on the characters from fairy tales about Little Miss Muffet and Red Riding Hood.
The civil case of Dale Hampshire vs. Clara Muffet came first on the Gunter ISD’s courtroom docket and offered a creepy chill for those afraid of spiders.
Ms. Moffet, played by Makenzie Perry, wanted out of her lease on an apartment full of spiders, or so she said. The apartment owner, Hampshire, told the jury of his peers he thought the gal spent her money on cars, clothes and furniture and just wanted out of the lease.
Through her attorney, played by Brooke Hogan, jurors heard that Ms. Muffet had reason to fear spiders. She had been bitten by one and lost most of her hearing because of it.
After presenting the case, Hogan said the whole experience was a lot of fun. “I really like to be in front of people and I so I really like to just prove people wrong sometimes,” she said, adding that she had not thought about being an attorney until the exercise, but now might consider it.
Crislynn Autry played a witness in the case and said she liked the field trip to Sherman. “It’s good to be in a courtroom and actually be doing this just in case I have to do it someday,” she said. She added that the group spent about three weeks working on the project.
Her teacher, Heather Kelley, said she has been doing mock trials with her students for about eight years now.
“I think creating a mock trial is a neat way to incorporate all those skills we’ve been working on through the year into one finished product,” Kelley said. She said this was the first year that they moved the trial out of the classroom.
“This year, I don’t know why, but I got to thinking about how neat it would be to do it in a real courtroom. Then I thought, “Why not?” I called, and they were very nice,” Kelley said. The nice people she referred to are the ones who work in Grayson County Judge Drue Bynum’s office.
Kelley she had the idea that it might also be good for the students to speak to an actual attorney, and she arranged that with Bobbie Peterson Cate, a Sherman attorney Kelley had met when she was a student in school and Peterson Cate worked at the Grayson County District Attorney’s Office.
The students later skyped with Peterson Cate.
Kelley said it was good to have all three sections of the 6th grade class at the mock trial Friday. Her teaching partners Kim Joiner and Dana Racanelli helped with the field trip as well.
The whole presentation was recorded on a iPad for later review.