by Staff Sgt. Jarad A. Denton
501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs
5/7/2014 - RAF ALCONBURY, United Kingdom -- The
courtroom fell silent as the prosecutor confidently stood and faced the
jury, adjusting his glasses and bow tie before he spoke.
"Once upon a time, there were three little pigs who lived in the forest," he said, quoting The Trial of the Big Bad Wolf: A Fairy Tale Fantasy for All Ages by Joseph Robinette. "They were nice little pigs and their mother loved them very, very much."
Eli Morris again adjusted his glasses and motioned toward three of his
Alconbury Elementary School 4th and 5th grade classmates, each dressed
as one of the fairy tale pigs. Together, along with several other
students, the children acted out the story as part of the 501st Combat
Support Wing's "Law Day" May 1.
Serving as a partnership between the 501st CSW Judge Advocate Office and
Alconbury Elementary, Law Day gave students a unique opportunity to
experience a mock trial from the opening arguments to the jury's
"We try to bring a bit of levity to this process," said Dr. Terry
Emerson, Alconbury Elementary principal. "Almost everyone knows this
nursery rhyme, so the students are able to play a familiar role while
studying the legal process."
Emerson, who donned a Barrister wig and black robe, served as the judge
during the mock trial. He carefully listened as Morris and his fellow
prosecutor, Brenna Kjorness, presented their case against the accused -
Benjamin Bradley Wolf, played by Evan Utter.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury," Morris said. "The big bad wolf
destroyed the little pigs' houses of hay and sticks, and you should find
him guilty, guilty, guilty!"
As the trial progressed, Morris and Kjorness presented their evidence
and called the three little pigs as witnesses, while parents and judge
advocate office Airmen watched the drama unfold.
"A courtroom is a serious part of the rule of law in American society,"
said Capt. Ryan Payne, 501st CSW assistant staff judge advocate. "This
mock trial helps the students understand that the rule of law is an
agreement we accept to not follow a particular person, but a set of laws
Payne said it was crucial to teach children about the legal system
early. He said it promotes a deeper respect for the law while laying the
foundation for the children to know their rights and navigate society
more efficiently later in life.
"Starting in elementary school is important," Emerson agreed. "We hope
that through these classes we can help children see the importance of
being an informed citizen and understanding that it is their government
The students embodied Emerson's words through their portrayal of the
characters. As prosecutors sternly attempted to paint the picture of a
malicious and violent wolf, the defense portrayed the character as a
victim of circumstance - and allergies.
"Well, once upon a time, Ben Brad Wolf had a very bad cold and his
allergies were terrible that day, too," said Kaden Traylor, defense
attorney for the accused. "He had run out of tissues, so Ben Brad Wolf
went over to the first little pig's house to borrow some tissues, or
Continuing his argument against the prosecution, Traylor explained the
wolf's unexpected sneeze caused the first little pig's house of straw to
collapse. Upon cross-examination of the straw house owner, Traylor
produced his first piece of physical evidence in the trial.
"Little pig, I am showing you Defense Exhibit A - it's some hay," Traylor said. "Could you blow on this hay please?"
The first little pig, played by Cheyanne Storie, effortlessly blew the
hay from Traylor's hand. Traylor smiled confidently as he looked at the
"No further questions."
Emerson smiled and said he was happy to see such an impassioned display
of civics during what was to be his last mock trial as the Alconbury
Elementary principal, before he retires this summer.
"After 42 years with Department of Defense Dependents Schools my wife
and I are ready for the next chapter in our lives," Emerson said. "But, I
was glad to see one more mock trial - especially with the young
Clarence Darrow over there."
He motioned toward Morris, who was preparing to give his closing
argument. The black bow tie and serious demeanor seemed to almost mirror
the stature of Darrow, one of the most famous American lawyers in the
"Was it allergies," Morris rhetorically asked the jury. "No! Was it a
cold? No way! This wolf, he's big, he's bad and he's guilty, guilty,
With such an animated argument from the prosecution, both Emerson and
Payne waited confidently for the verdict that would surely send the wolf
"Not guilty," read the jury's forewoman, as the crowd erupted - some with cheers, others in disbelief.
Payne simply smiled and shook his head.
"I'm a bit shocked by the verdict," he admitted. "But the kids got to
see the system in action - a verdict from a jury of their peers."
Not everyone took the decision so well. As the second little pig, played
by Katya Watson, stormed out of the courtroom she raised her fist in
anger and demanded justice.
"His name screams guilt," she shouted.