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“I could never do such a heinous crime. Besides, there’s no proof that I tossed the rock.”

It’s a quote from the accused on trial at Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School—a fictitious trial, that is.

Franklin Elementary School’s sixth-graders recently participated in a mock trial with law students from Brigham Young University. Students had hands-on experience learning about legal proceedings and the legal system while practicing essential critical thinking, public speaking, and collaborative skills.

Students took on court roles, playing the parts of prosecution and defense members, witnesses, judge, bailiff, and jury to determine if the accused deserved their criminal mischief charge for damaging their neighbor’s property. 

The complexity of student arguments and rulings surprised me: students examined differences between circumstantial and direct evidence before reaching their conclusion, a challenge for most laypeople, let alone children.

Each member played a crucial part in the mock trial, from the student’s opening statements to the verdict announcement. Overall, every student received a hands-on, real-world experience requiring critical thinking, communication, and collaboration while gaining a deeper understanding of the legal system. We are grateful to the Brigham Young University and Franklin staff for creating an opportunity to extend learning, and we look forward to similar experiences in the future.

Spencer Tuinei
  • Communication Specialist
  • Spencer Tuinei