The Trial of Harry Potter: Aurora-Style

The Trial of Harry Potter: Aurora-Style

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Harry Potter received a verdict of not guilty following his murder trial in Aurora, Nebraska, on the morning of April 27, 2022. Hampton Public School 5th graders took on roles of Harry Potter, Dumbledore, Lord Voldemort, Hagrid, and other characters in the fictional series. Student attorneys and court staff worked their way through a mock trial script provided by the Nebraska State Bar Foundation.

To start the 5th Grade Job Shadow mock trial session, District Judge Rachel Daugherty welcomed students and introduced the individuals helping with the trial and their job duties.  Clerk of the District Court Wendy Dethlefs used the jury wheel to draw roles for students, attorney Stephen Knudsen acted as standby counsel, and Court Reporter Julie Bellis impressed the students with her skills and advanced technology.

Student attorneys called witnesses who were sworn in by Daugherty and her 5th grade Clerk of the District Court. The trial lasted approximately an hour, after which courtroom employees (Clerk, Sheriff’s deputy, defense attorney, prosecutor, judge) met with students to explain their jobs to students while enjoying donuts and juice.

When Daugherty asked if there were any questions, one student immediately raised his hand and asked, “Can we do another one?”

Law Day Job Shadowing is an annual cooperative program of the Nebraska State Bar Foundation and the Nebraska Supreme Court conducted on or near Law Day, May 1. Piloted in Lincoln Public Schools in 2001, the program went statewide in 2002. Since then, many communities and thousands of school children have participated.

Fifth graders spend an hour or more with lawyers, judges, court clerks, court reporters, or other professionals including law enforcement officials. During the job shadowing day, the students experience the day-to-day activities of these professionals.

The fifth graders typically visit government offices or the local courthouse. The children are chaperoned by adults. Legal professionals may carry out a mock trial demonstration or engage the students in an activity such as writing a simple contract or a will.

Mock trial scripts, adapted for fifth-grade audiences by law clerks of Justice Jeff Funke, are available through the State Bar Foundation offices