Grand Ridge students conduct a mock trial with a local judge

Jackson County

GRAND RIDGE, Fla. (WMBB) — “I honestly thought I was going to be guilty,” student Nicholas Arnold said.

Once a year, Grand Ridge students get to interact with Jackson County court officials.

The students gather in the band room, and a few are even chosen to participate in a mock trial.

“Kids in the class get to learn about the three branches of government, but when they get to see it and they see a trial, and they get to ask questions, it seems like they learn more and they remember more than if it’s just a lecture,” Jackson County Judge Wade Mercer said.

The students were assigned to trial roles including a judge, defendant, defense attorney, prosecutor, witnesses and bailiff.

Everyone else was part of the jury.

“They love this experience,” teacher Cay Galloway said. “They always learn a lot from this experience and I think it’s awesome.”

The prosecutor accused the defendant, Nicholas Arnold, of stealing his lunch and eating it.

Students read off scripts to ask questions. Sometimes they’d go off script, and county court officials would help steer them in the right direction.

The jury voted on a verdict and a lot of people raised their hands for guilty.

“My friends, they even said it and it was kind of sad because you’re not supposed to say that,” Arnold said.

The trial ended in a hung jury. Arnold went to class a free man.

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