students will only ever see the inside of a courtroom in pictures or on
television, which is both good and bad. Good because it means they are
staying on the right side of the law, and bad because students need to
understand the legal system.
However, Bucyrus High School students had the opportunity to learn
not only about the legal system, but also what goes in to trying a case.
Government teacher Mr. Jason Nickler had his students bring the
courtroom to life right in the classroom during the annual mock trial
"All three of my Government classes did the same mock trial case this
year; 'The People v. Andrew Madison'," Nickler said. "The accused,
'Andrew', was brought to trial on charges of assault and battery of a
police officer and disorderly conduct."
At the beginning of the two and a half week preparation window, each
class was instructed that there was to be no sharing of information or
discussion of their cases among their senior classmates. Students were
divided into a prosecution team and defense Team, which each consisted
of 4-5 students, and a jury comprised of 5-10 students.
Senior Jesse Heinle served as a Juror during this year's Mock Trial,
and felt it was a good experience for everyone because they learned the
ins and outs of a trial.
"Serving as a juror was a good experience because I learned how to
deliberate and not allow my biases to affect the outcome of the court
case," Heinle said. "The toughest part of the entire process was staying
unbiased until the deliberation period where I was able to study the
facts and determine guilt or innocence."
Jackie Gabriel, another BHS senior, served on the defense team during
the mock trial. She found the most difficult part of the experience
preparing for the case because it was something she hadn't done before.
"We were responsible for reading through the case and learning how
everything was handled," Gabriel said. "We had to setup questions we
wanted to ask and write the answers we thought they would give us. We
had to think on the spot and that was difficult."
Every prosecution and defense team had to prepare an opening
statement, direct examination, cross- examination, and closing
statement. The jury members had to create grading rubrics/check sheets
on what they should be looking for during the trial.
"The whole goal of the 2-3 week long instructional unit is for the
students to have a basic understanding of the rights guaranteed to all
Americans if they have to deal with the legal system in any capacity,"
Nickler said. "I think ï¿¼that the mock trial is a great way to end the
unit and give the students an alternate assessment of their
understanding of the material besides a test."
On the days of the trials, students were required to dress up and
look presentable for the courtroom. Nickler rearranged the classroom by
making a jury box for students and putting desks together for
prosecution and defense tables.
"I learned a lot about what happens in the process of trying a court
case," Gabriel said. "You have to know what you’re talking about and
what you're doing because Mr. Nickler took it very serious and didn't
want us to wing it."
"The mock trial also allows the students to be active in their
education," Nickler said. "Doing a project like this allows students to
put concepts into action and better retain the important information."
As for the outcome of Gabriel’s defense team during the mock trial,
she would say her client was happy. "Our client was found not guilty, so
I would say we did our job pretty well!"