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Students get a taste of the law
Students in grades 5-8 at Olympic Peninsula Academy conducted a start-to-finish mock trial March 4, resulting in a hung jury in favor of an assault with a deadly weapon conviction.
Teacher and acting judge Timothy Wilkinson said his students learned about writing, speech and law as they prepared for the mock trial.
The 41 students involved served as defense and prosecuting attorneys, eyewitnesses, expert witnesses, including a psychologist and doctor, victim and defendants. The prosecution and defense teams selected 12 parents to serve as jurors and followed proper trial procedures for two-and-a-half hours as they presented their cases.
The case involved allegations that the three defendants assaulted the victim with a baseball bat outside the school gymnasium. Pablo Van Renterghem, acting as prosecutor, argued it was a clear case of assault but Grant Schogren, acting as defense attorney, said the defendants were playing and the victim stumbled into the baseball bat.
Ultimately the jury was hung 10 to 2, in favor of a conviction.
Wilkinson said he would pay each student “scholar dollars” based on the time he or she had to invest in preparation for the trial, along with a bonus to the prosecutorial team for winning more of the votes.