Harlem 8th Graders State Their Case


The 8th grade at Our Lady Of Lourdes school in Harlem, NYC is participating in its first ever mock trial program. The program seeks to teach students about the justice system in the United States and introduces them to concepts such as due process, right to a fair trial, reasonable doubt, rules of evidence, and the Constitution. Students also learn about the roles filled in the American Criminal Justice system by judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, jurors, and defendant. 

The program includes an in-depth discussion and philosophical look at the concepts of justice in America. Students are asked to think for themselves about the system we have and what works and what doesn’t. The students choose roles to play in their “Mock Trial” of Gold. E. Locks, a defendant on trial for trespassing, burglary, breaking and entering, and criminal mischief. Students work in small teams to develop their theory of the case, opening statements, direct and cross examination, and closing arguments. 

Ultimately, the students will conduct a trial and jurors will determine whether Ms. Locks is guilty or not guilty of any of the charged offenses. 

The students will be asked at the end to reflect on their experience and their new understanding of the justice system. 

The program is overseen by the 8th grade faculty and the administration of the school, Principal Cathy Hufnagel and Asst. Principal Ms. Recaido. It is “coached” by Rachel Kugel a local criminal defense attorney and parent of a kindergartner at  Our Lady of Lourdes School. 

What a wonderful, illuminating experience for the students!  We’re excited to hear about the outcome!

The program began on 11.13 and culminates in the trial held on December 4th at 8:30 a.m. 

Author: INtoHarlem