PENDLETON — Forty-seven members of East Elementary School’s sixth-grade Junior Beta Club took a recent field trip to Madison County Courthouse, where students participated in a mock trial, toured the building and spoke with county officials.
During the mock trial — which was centered on a supposed case of computer theft — 14 Junior Beta members served as the jury: Emalyn Alford-Poitras, Stephen Benages, Andrew Bledsoe, Olivia Boicourt, Gisele Cook, Benjamin Garrido-Rudicil, Allison Johnson, Cecelia Kean, Bryce Nickells, Lucas Peavler, Madalyn Reed, Parker Rich, Olive Scott and Ellie Warfel.
Students Ava Adkins, Nora Lehman and Judd Souders were witnesses. Drew Collins was the baliff, and Nolan Dujmovich was the defendant.
Dujmovich’s defense attorney for the mock trial was actual attorney Brock Hagerman.
Hagerman attended East and was a Junior Beta Club member from 1999 to 2000.
Attorneys Sami Green and Matt Savage, who work for the Madison County Deputy Prosecutor’s office, served as state prosecutors.
Madison County Circuit Court Judge Angela Sims presided over the trial.
The mock trial included witness testimony, legal arguments and jury deliberations, as well as an eventual not guilty finding, which was based on a lack of proof that the defendant — though present during the crime — knew a theft was occurring.
During the courthouse tour, students visited the prosecutor’s office and various courts, including the courtroom of Judge Andrew Hopper, who attended East and also was a Junior Beta Club member from 1993 to 1994.
The tour wrapped up with students meeting with a panel of elected county officials, including three county commissioners.
The field trip, which took place April 4, ended with lunch at Greek’s Pizzeria.
Beta Club is an independent, non-profit, educational youth organization that promotes the ideals of academic achievement, character, service and leadership among elementary and secondary school students.
Members are invited to join based on academics and character.
The Junior Beta Club at East Elementary is co-sponsored by teachers Veronica Collins and Pamela Kittle.
According to Collins, Sims shared the following after the visit: “We thoroughly enjoyed having the Beta club at the courthouse today. Your students were very impressive in the questions they asked and the observations they made during the mock trial.
“As you can imagine, those of us that work in the criminal justice system typically do not see people at their best. Therefore, it is always refreshing to interact with young members in our community that have bright futures ahead of them. Thank you for thinking of us for the field trip.”