Fifth-grade Students Hold Mock Trial at Otoe County Courthouse

Fifth-grade Students Hold Mock Trial at Otoe County Courthouse

The Law Day event on May 2 was not just a showcase of legal proceedings but a vivid demonstration of community outreach by the Nebraska Judicial Branch. Fifth-grade students from Lourdes Central Catholic and Hayward Elementary engaged in a courtroom play, portraying a trial where Superman stood accused. Despite the morning jury's deadlock, afternoon students rendered Superman not guilty. Organized by Retired Judge Randall Rehmeier and Justice Jeffrey Funke, this event marked the celebration of Law Day, aiming to educate citizens on legal principles.

The students had the unique opportunity to interact with various legal professionals, including judges, attorneys, and law enforcement officers. Sheriff's K9 Officer Waco stole the show with a demonstration of drug detection skills, highlighting the multifaceted nature of law enforcement. Through discussions led by officials like Otoe County Court Judge David Partsch, Otoe County Attorney/Prosecutor Jenniffer Panko-Rahe, Otoe County Public Defender Michael Ziskey, Otoe County District Court Clerk/Bailiff Janis Riege, Otoe County Probation Officer Katie Clapper, and Otoe County Sheriff Colin Caudill, students gained insights into the judiciary's inner workings and the roles of different legal actors, fostering a deeper understanding of civic engagement.

Law Day, established in 1958 by President Eisenhower, serves as a platform for citizens to reflect on the importance of a government governed by law. Beyond educational plays and discussions, the event incorporates job shadowing opportunities, exposing students to the diverse facets of the legal system. By fostering interaction between the community and the judiciary, Law Day not only educates but also inspires active participation in shaping a just society.

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To participate in the program and host local 5th graders in your court or area through the Job Shadow program, contact Janet Bancroft.