The Federal Bar Association
Oklahoma City Chapter
Oklahoma City University Law School's Student Division of the FBA helps OKC Metro Fourth Graders Perform Mock Trial
Oklahoma City Metro Fourth Graders Perform Mock Trial with help from friends of the Federal Court and Oklahoma City University School of Law’s Student Division of the FBA
By Amber Martin
What started as a suggestion from United States District Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti to Brandi Haskins, President of the Oklahoma City University School of Law’s student division of FBA, to involve her chapter with the community, became a smashing success on Friday, April 4, 2014. In an effort to introduce local elementary students to the federal courts and our nation’s judicial system, the OCU FBA teamed up with Ms. Batten’s 4th grade class from Gatewood Elementary. Ms. Haskins worked with Chief Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange, Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti, and local attorneys Tony Lacy, Mark Spencer and Chris Stephens to create what would be a mock trial in the Ceremonial Courtroom of the Federal Courthouse for the Western District of Oklahoma.
Beginning the Monday prior to the mock trial, lessons were taught to Ms. Batten’s class each day. Ms. Haskins, Tony Lacy, and Chris Stephens wrote a script of the mock trial to be played by the children in the classroom. The trial was that of Pierce the Pig charged with “eggicide” for pushing Humpty Dumpty off the wall. OCU Law student, Pierce Winters, played the part of the defendant. Gatewood students played all remaining roles including judges, jurors, prosecution, defense, marshals, and witnesses.
On Friday, the day of the trial, the Federal Courthouse for the Western District was more than welcoming. Cookies were made, the court marshals gave a handcuffing demonstration, and Lynn, the court reporter for Chief Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange, spoke about her role in trial.
Before trial commenced and volunteers from OCU Law student division of FBA and their attorney partners were making last minute adjustments, Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti welcomed the group and thanked them for their service to the community. He recalled that as a student he had been involved in a mock trial at school. He said that without that opportunity he may have never thought that he was capable of a career in law. As the children filed into the Ceremonial Courtroom to begin trial, excited whispers echoed off the high walls. One student exclaimed, “This is the most exciting day ever!”
With the help of all volunteers present, the trial went off without a hitch! Afterwards, Chief Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange graciously allowed all students and volunteers to have lunch in her chambers. The children were able to ask her questions, and she took her time to carefully answer each child’s questions. To top off the day, Chief Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange gave the children a tour of her inner-office, a sight most people never see in a lifetime.
The trial allowed the fourth graders and OCU Law students alike a great opportunity. The exercise was primarily centered on the fourth graders but each and every law student will say that they were deeply inspired by the program. OCU Law students were overwhelmed by all of the support they received. The fourth graders were able to learn about litigation through a hands-on exercise. Hopefully, some of the children were left with a dream that through hard work they too can become a lawyer, judge, clerk, court reporter, or marshal – anything they set their minds to. OCU Student Division of FBA plans to continue the program in the coming years.