ALPENA - No longer safe from the law behind the veil of fiction, Goldilocks will go to trial before local Girl Scout troops at Alpena County Circuit Court on Monday for her crimes against the Three Bears.
In anticipation of Law Day on Tuesday, members of Alpena's Brownie Troop 992, Junior Troop 2313, and Cadet/Senior Troop 1033 have put weeks of research and preparation into a mock trial for the fabled character - who stands accused of breaking and entering, malicious destruction of property, and larceny - in order to earn law badges for learning about the legal process. Girl Scout Leader Bronwyn Woolman said 30 girls met together for weeks to research and audition for roles that interested them, and all of them will participate in Monday's trial before presiding Judge Thomas LaCross.
"The Girl Scouts will fulfill every role. We have a prosecuting team, a defense team, we have the Three Bears, Goldilocks, two neighbors that are testifying as to what they saw and heard on the day of the breaking and entering and all that, we have a crime scene investigator, a court stenographer, a bailiff, a social worker, a court recorder, a photographer, and a full jury," she said. "(Girls had) the basic outlines of the script and then the Girl Scouts have to fill it in. They have to develop their own offense, their own defense. The parameters are laid out, but then it's up to the girls to individualize it with how they want to go and what they want to do, so they have been practicing for weeks for this trial."
The girls cast votes ahead of the trial to see if they think Goldilocks would be found innocent or guilty, and scout leaders will announce the results of the vote over cake and punch after Monday's verdict to see how the girls' pre-trial verdict compares to the jury's official one.
Part of earning the badge, Woolman said, is not only about learning civilian rights and the ins and outs of the U.S. judicial system, but about holding a trial run for potential careers. She got the idea for a mock trial 10 years ago from a friend in Ohio who had success with it, and the event has since become a favorite for the scouts. For some, the exercise taps an interest in law, for others a proclivity to act, and it gives them all a memorable experience.
"They're earning a badge by doing this trial, and part of earning the badge is they have interviewed police officers, they have interviewed probation officers, a judge, to get not only their job and what they do, but also their education, because with anything with scouts, you're trying to help the kids to think ahead about, 'Maybe this will be something I will want to do down the road,' to give them ideas of what's out there for them for careers," she said. "The reason I'm doing it again this year is that the girls (who did it four years ago), I had them out to my house at Christmastime ... and they said one of the highlights for them when they were younger was doing that Goldilocks trial and finding out about our court system and our law, and going into that big courthouse ... It just makes it real for children. It gives them a hands-on experience."
What: Girl Scouts mock trial
When: 6 p.m. Monday
Where: Alpena County Circuit Court, 720 W. Chisholm Street
LaCross said the mock trial is an ideal way to celebrate Law Day, which President Dwight Eisenhower established to contrast with the Soviet military-centered May Day.
"What they do get out of it ... is several things, really under the heading of respect for the law and how we resolve conflict in the United States, and we've done that since the beginning of our country - public trials, and resolution of conflict, and presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and that's a nice thing," he said.
Andrew Westrope can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693.