HOUSTON -- It's a whole new kind of legal drama when grade schoolers try a case in a real courtroom in front of a real judge.
"The Great Cookie Caper" may be pretend, but it’s got some real life lessons.
"Law and Order" is starting early for dozens of JFK Elementary kids in Houston ISD. They have filled two Harris County Civil District courtrooms to solve the "Great Cookie Caper."
A fourth-grade prosecutor gravely asks,“Miss Gray, do you love chocolate cookies?”
Their teachers Miss Gray and Miss Thibeaux are the prime suspects.
The grade schoolers play all the roles in this mock trial, from attorneys to witnesses to jurors.
The goal is to introduce children to the justice system in a positive way.
“The first time a child is before a judge should not be when he is in court,” said 125th Civil District Court Judge Kyle Carter.
165th Civil District Court Judge Debra Ibarra Mayfield let kids sit in her chair so they could see what it looks on her side of the bench.
Donna Roth with the Houston Trial Lawyers Association said this is a relatively new volunteer project.
“The Houston Trial Lawyer Foundation has been helping out at JFK for over 20 years,” Roth said. “The foundation adopted the school.”
The attorneys have held parties, donated gifts, school uniforms, even college visits to other cities. All this is to help the kids think about their future, whatever it may be.
What did Amari Moss learn?
“How to defend other people, if I want to be lawyer, and how to improve my acting skills,” said Moss, who played Bobby Brief.
The acting skills are pretty good. Ivan Galvan -- aka Carlos Contempt -- shouts out, “There is only one conclusion. Miss Gray ate all the chocolate chip cookies!”
A real judge presides over the case. Today, the student jurors agree and find their teacher Miss Gray, guilty.
A cheer rings out from the winning side. Even better, afterwards, the kids get to eat the evidence in the jury room.
“Law can be very fun and public service, it can be very fun and educational,” said Eddie Arana, who played Perry Prosecutor.
They've learned a lot. In fact, Moss pipes up, “Can I have some coffee?”
No. Justice is served.