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Law Day for St. Clair Evans Academy Students

Fifth grade students from St. Clair Evans Academy experienced a real world, experiential lesson in law through participation with D.W. Perkins Bar Association’s Law Day event. Law Day was created when Therese Burgess, St. Clair Evans Principal Ashton Price’s assistant and the mother of a student in Wolfson High School’s law program, met D.W. Perkins Bar Association Attorney Sharletta Roberts. The two women started talking, and before they knew it, the Law Day concept was born.

Burgess and Roberts worked closely with the students; their teachers (Tammy Haywood, Stephanie Washington and Napolean Williams); St. Clair Evans Principal Ashton Price; and staff and law program students at Wolfson High School to coordinate the event.  The women wanted to provide a fun and interactive experience for the students, so they could gain knowledge of the judicial process.

Many months of preparation went into planning Law Day, which culminated with a mock trial at Wolfson High School with the Honorable Judge Pauline Drayton presiding. The students participated in every step of the process from planning to implementation. Every student had a role to play from prosecuting and defense attorney to plaintiff and defendant. The jury was made up of a mixture of St. Clair Evans fifth grade students and students from Wolfson High School’s law program.

The students presented the case of Humpty Dumpty versus Sherman King, which was based upon the character of Humpty Dumpty who was hired by Sherman King, an automobile dealership owner, to make a special appearance for a July 4th sale. Well, Humpty Dumpty fell off of a wall during his appearance at King’s dealership and was injured. The plaintiff (Humpty Dumpty) was suing the defendant (Sherman King) for negligence.

Before starting the mock trial, Judge Drayton prepared the students by talking to them to put their minds at ease. Judge Drayton encouraged the students to “have fun!” She continued to say, “If you forget something, don’t worry about it. Real attorneys forget things, too.”

The students began the mock trial and did a fabulous job.  They all played their parts well with opening statements, objections, witness interviews, etc. When the jury was dismissed from the courtroom to deliberate, Judge Drayton explained the deliberation process to the remaining students and started a dialogue with them about the case, as if they were on the jury. She informed the students that judges do not decide the facts. Judges know and describe the law. The jury members are who listens to both sides of the argument and decides with whom to side based on the facts presented during the trial.

When the jury was finished deliberating, the student jurors returned to the courtroom to pass down a verdict of not guilty. Sherman King was found not guilty of negligence in the case of Humpty Dumpty versus Sherman King.  And, the students received a valuable and hands-on lesson about our justice system in the process.
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