REED CITY — Goldilocks sat in the courtroom in the Osceola County Courthouse facing down her accusers: three bears. The crime? Bad manners, for which the jury later found her guilty of and sentenced her to six months in prison.
However, like the story on which it was based, the case was a fiction and it was played out by local elementary students to learn about the justice system.
Throughout the day of June 1, students from GT Norman Elementary took on the roles of judges, attorneys, defendants, plaintiffs, witnesses and jurors for mock trials held at the Osceola County Courthouse.
The event was part of a four-day event hosted by the courthouse, which drew third and fourth-grade classes from school districts in Osceola and Mecosta counties.
Students deliberated on other fairy tale-themed cases throughout the day, which included Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Jack and the Bean Stalk and more.
The students of Kayli Eastling’s third-grade class took on the Goldilocks case. Each class spent time rehearsing their case before arriving to the court.
Students have to memorize the scripts, but in so doing learn about how the justice system works, Judge Tyler Thompson said.
Once the students have gone through their scripts and made their arguments, students on the jury go into a separate room, where they determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. They return, read the verdict and the judge dolls out the penalty.
The activity, which runs about 30 minutes for each case, has been hosted by the courthouse for many years, but Thompson revived it after a long hiatus.
“It’s a good way for students to see how the court works in a non-threatening way,” Thompson said.
In addition or as a result of learning how the court system works, Thompson said it allows students to explore possible career paths.