Cinderella is acquitted in a mock trial aimed at helping high schoolers learn about the legal system

Published: Apr. 23, 2021 at 12:01 AM EDT
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LAKE CITY, Fla. (WCJB) -Cinderella’s fairy tale story nearly turned into a pumpkin in Lake City on Thursday night. The princess faced a jury in a mock trial on multiple charges, and judges, attorneys, and the top cop in Columbia County participated.

The Blanche in downtown Lake City was transformed into a courthouse, and on trial was Cinderella. Her charges included fraud, theft, and impersonation. Although the case was not real, it was an opportunity to teach high schoolers about the legal process.

“I feel that it is very important for the students and the other people who came just because it is something that somebody at some point has to go through. Even if all that happens is you are called for jury duty,” explained Alyssa Hopkins, the Keynote Speaker for the event.

Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter said understanding the legal system is crucial. He believes that not understanding leads to a disconnect between the legal system and many people.

“By taking our young people and developing them to understand the process, I think it makes us a better society and a better community,” explained Sheriff Hunter.

3rd Circuit Chief Judge Mark Feagle presided over the case, and Sheriff Hunter acted as the bailiff. Representing Cinderella was by Public Defender Cliff Wilson.

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A statement from Wilson that stuck with the jury, “if the shoe doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” That, of course, about the glass heel Cinderella left at the ball that prince charming returned to her during the trial.

Hopkins explained even though it was a lighthearted way to teach people about the legal process, it still offered an essential lesson of how to act in court.

“If you go into a courtroom and don’t conduct yourself properly, you can get yourself removed from the courtroom,” said Hopinks.

She believes by having witnesses take the oath created a realistic atmosphere. Sheriff Hunter said having leaders in the legal system at this event also helps young people connect with community leaders.

“Having us here and letting the kids interact with us not only with what they see there, but they have the opportunity to come up and talk to us as individuals. I think it breaks down a lot of barriers,” explained Sheriff Hunter.

While the evil stepmother couldn’t convince a jury that Cinderella was guilty of fraud, impersonation, and theft, the crowd still learned valuable information about the legal process. Everyone can live happily ever after.

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