Critter Court Teaches Children About Jury Trials And Law

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The Big Bad Wolf was proven innocent during a jury trial held at Frontier Elementary School.

Payson Police Officer David Vaughn moderated a mock trial Thursday at FES in which the Big Bad Wolf was facing charges for his part in the Three Little Pigs incident.

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Acting as judges, Eryk Stradling and Sephria Reynolds review the fairy trial case before them.

The program, called Critter County Courthouse, is made possible through a grant from the Arizona Supreme Court and is designed to help children understand and appreciate America's judicial system.

"There are 15 mock ‘fairy trials' scripted for children," Vaughn said. "I love teaching constitutional law. These storybook trials are fun and help them understand our constitutional privileges."

During the trials, area school children are involved in the complete judicial process including voir dire, or the process of jury selection. Eight jurors are selected as well as defendants, attorneys, witnesses, bailiffs and judges. Jurors evaluate evidence and then deliberate to determine a verdict.

"It makes the kids think about evaluating someone in their everyday life," said Donna Haught, fifth-grade teacher at FES. "It helps them to see that there are two sides to every story."

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