Divided Fall River students set Goldilocks free in mock trial

Issue July/August 2009

Fourth graders at the John J. Doran School in Fall River decided the fate of a fairytale favorite in "The Three Bears v. Goldilocks," a mock trial sponsored by the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Ninth Street Day Nursery and Pre School in Fall River.

The trial, which was held June 12 at Fall River Superior Court, was presided over by Judge David A. McLaughlin, who recently retired.

Sandy Dennis, president of the Ninth Street Day Nursery and Pre School board, organized the program with the MBA's Public and Community Services Department in honor of the school's upcoming 100th anniversary for the benefit of the Fall River community.

Fourth grade students at the Doran School split into three juries and deliberated the case: one jury decided guilty, one decided innocent and one was hung. Because the juries could not agree on a conviction, Goldilocks was set free.

In a script created by the American Bar Association, the Bears found Goldilocks sleeping in Babe E. Bear's bed when the family returned from a walk in the woods. They alleged that she showed bad manners by letting herself in to their empty home, breaking a chair and eating their food.

Fall River attorney David J. Dennis represented the Bears. Meredith P. Kelley of Morison & Mahoney LLP, also in Fall River, represented Goldilocks.

Students heard opening remarks from MBA Treasurer Denise Squillante, of Fall River. The roles of the witnesses in the case were played by students from Southern New England School of Law in Dartmouth.

"It is all of our responsibilities as members of our profession to do some work on civics in education in whatever way we can," Squillante said. "The students were engaged, interested, and in the jury room, they had many questions and focused on the witness testimony. I am confident that after that morning in Superior Court, there is a new appreciation for the judicial process."