The Verdict’s In: Court is Cool

Imagine: A room full of 20 fourth graders learning about the judicial system. Do you envision kids staring off into space? Pokes, prods and blank stares?

If you’re watching kids explore Wyoming’s Judicial Learning Center, you’ll find just the opposite.

In the back of the Law Library in the basement of the Wyoming Supreme Court, there’s a room chock-full of information. It was funded, in part, by the Wyoming Community Foundation.

The space is bright and interactive. Timelines fill the walls and students take part in activities.

You’ll see kids taking turns spinning the “What does it take to become a Supreme Court Justice?” wheel. A few others are listening to actual Supreme Court cases over phones. They’ll have to decide the verdict. There is a line of students outside the room. They’re waiting their turn to don a robe and bang a gavel.

In these moments, each child finds the judicial system approachable. Cool, even.

Students quickly realize the judicial branch is anything but boring. They also get to see it in action by taking part in a very serious trial.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty: The Big Bad Wolf

On the stand sit four students joined by Wyoming Supreme Court Justice, Kate Fox. The kids are listening to two real-life lawyers present a case about the following:
Justice Fox: “Alexander T. Wolf was convicted of two counts of felony  property destruction for knowingly destroying the straw home of Little Pig #1 (aka Porky) and the stick home of Little Pig #2 (aka Babe) in violation of
W.S. 6-3-201 (a).

“Mr. Wolf was sentenced to six years’ incarceration as a result of his convictions. He now appeals his convictions, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to prove that he knowingly caused the destruction of the pigs’ homes.

Standing as the Wyoming Supreme Court, it is up to you to listen to the arguments and decide whether Mr. Wolf was wrongfully convicted.”

You can feel the excitement in the room as two seasoned lawyers argue the case.

“Mr. Wolf did not knowingly blow down the house. He suffers from severe
allergies due to the Wyoming wind.”

“Our expert witness has testified that a sneeze cannot produce that much force.”

“The pigs did not hear Mr. Wolf correctly. He said, ‘I’m making a cake
and need only a pound,’ not ‘I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down.’”

After hearing the two sides, the kids, aware of this heavy responsibility, lay down their judgement to uphold the conviction of the wolf.

Thanks to donors like you, children in Wyoming have the chance to visit the Judicial Learning Center and be a part of this great experience.

Who knows, 30 years from now maybe one of them will sit on the bench. They may even credit this experience for getting them there!