Friday, May 31, 2013

Jury hung over whether teen texting was grossly negligent

On May 31, 2013, United States Bankruptcy Judge Margaret Mann hosted 30 high school students for a mock trial to determine whether an 18 year old was guilty of gross negligence of the death of a fellow passenger killed during an automobile accident after sending a text. Judge Mann was assisted by Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Scholpler and Federal Defender Bridget Kennedy.  After the mock trial, the students had an opportunity to learn about the various careers associated with the federal courts.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Big Bad Wolf Not Liable for Pigs' Losses

A mock jury, comprised of third grade students in the Southern District of California, found the Big Bad Wolf was not liable for damages caused when he sneezed, causing two houses, owned by plaintiffs Curly and Wurly Pig, to fall apart.  Wolf argued that his allergies were the problem and he did not intend to injure the pigs in any manner.  The Pigs' assertions that he intentionally huffed and puffed and blew their homes down did not persuade the jurors.  United States District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel presided over the mock trial.  Assistant United States Attorney Dan Butcher and Federal Defender Deke Falls also participated in the mock trial.  The 8- and 9-year-old students played all the roles and deliberated the facts diligently before reaching their verdict.  After the trial, the students had the opportunity to step into a holding cell, try on a bullet proof vest and watch a demonstration by the U.S. Marshals Service's explosive-detecting canine.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Learning Over Lunch

On May 14, 2013, Senior District Judge Jeffrey T. Miller of the United States Disrict Court for the Southern District of California had lunch with 10 students he had met at the naturalization ceremony he presided over on April 24, 2013.  At the naturalization ceremony, the eighth grade students spoke before a crowd of several thousand people on the topic of the American Dream.  Judge Miller was so impressed with the poise of the students and the content of their speeches that he invited them to a brown bag lunch in his courtroom to discuss the federal court system.  The students came fully prepared to make the most of this rare opportunity to ask questions directly of a federal judge in an informal setting. They spent two hours discussing the court system, discussing a hypothetical legal issue and asking general questions.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mock Jury Determines Wicked Stepmother Owes Cinderella Back Wages

Bankruptcy Judge Christopher S. Latham hosted 65 students in the Southern District of California for a civil mock trial to determine if Zelda Tremaine, aka the wicked stepmother, owed Princess Ella, more commonly referred to as "Cinder"ella, back wages for the years of services rendered to her "wicked stepmother and stepsisters."  The 5th grade students took on all the roles for the mock trial and then four separate juries deliberated the merits of the case. After completion of the mock trial, deputy U.S. marshals gave the students a glimpse into the life of a federal law enforcement officer.  Finally, the students watched a demonstration by two explosives detecting canines and their handlers.  One teacher commented that she really felt that this experience created a spark in some of her students that could last a lifetime.

Friday, May 3, 2013

U. S. District Court for the Southern District of California Invites 4 Graders to Participate in a Mock Trial

On May 3, 2013, Senior District Judge Irma Gonzalez welcomed 34 fourth grade students and some parents to the United States Disrict Court for the Southern District of California to participate in a mock trial involving two students accused of possessing fireworks with the intent to distribute.  Assistant United States Attorney Jill Burkhardt and Leila Morgan of Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc., assisted Judge Gonzalez with the presentation. The students, ages 9-10, took on all the roles inculding judge and jury, defendants, attorneys and witnesses.  They engaged in the mock trial very seriously and acted out their respective roles enthusiastically.  Observers were particularly impressed by the way the students approached deliberations and discussed and debated the merits of the facts presented during the mock trial.