George Town Primary School students took part in a mock trial before judge Jenese Simms in the school’s library earlier this month.
After carefully listening to the facts of the trial and the evidence from prosecutor Demi McLean and defense attorney Jhanelle Ennnis, the Year 5 classroom jury found defendant “Goldilocks” guilty as charged at the trial held on Friday, Dec. 9.
The students were learning all about law and the court system from Caymanian law student Ms. McLean, who is studying in the U.K. at BPP University, and visiting law students, identical twins Jhaneille F. Ennis and Jhanelle N. Ennis.
Ms. McLean left Cayman Brac at age 17 to attend the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she graduated with a bachelors in criminal justice and a minor in legal assistant studies in 2012. Upon her return home, she worked as a domestic violence probation officer. In January 2016, she moved to the U.K. to complete her law degree at BPP, where she is a student director of an organization called Streetlaw at her university. Streetlaw provides legal education to people in the community; members go into schools and prisons to run interactive and educational seminars.
Ms. McLean said after being appointed as student director, she proposed the idea of using her Christmas break to bring Streetlaw to the Cayman Islands. Her Streetlaw manager and the university offered her full support as she planned and organized each presentation.
“The presentation gives [the students] awareness into the criminal justice systems and the consequences attached to certain criminal and deviant behavior. It also provides them with awareness into possible career opportunities,” she said.
In the presentation, rather than sitting through a 45-minute lecture, children get involved and run a “real trial,” she explained.
In the case before the Year 5 class, Goldilocks was put on trial for “criminal acts” committed in the classic children’s story. The students not only learned about the law, but put the lessons into practice. By the end, students had many questions and expressed interest in becoming judges, police officers or lawyers.
“The most important part of the Streetlaw lesson is students become aware of the different facets of criminal behavior, legal definitions, and the different roles within the court system,” she said.
The presentation in Cayman schools came after Ms. McLean observed the impact that it had on children in Manchester and she thought that young people in Cayman could benefit as well.
“We … get nothing but positive feedback. The students and the teachers absolutely love when we give presentations, and always invite us back,” she said. Ms. McLean said teachers are provided with follow-up lesson plans that encourage further exploration into legal concepts.
Other schools interested in participating can email Ms. McLean at [email protected]