FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — The Big Bad Wolf was awarded $10 million in monetary damages Friday at the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate courtroom, after a jury of elementary school students found Georgia Piggly guilty of defamation.
According to Capt. Francisco Hernandez, an SJA legal assistance attorney who helped organize the event, the mock lawsuit — and the 250 fourth- and fifth-grade jurors who participated virtually from their classrooms at Wood and Laquey elementary schools — is typically hosted by the SJA each year on Law Day — celebrated annually on May 1. However, Hernandez said they were unable to schedule the event to coincide with the observance this year.
Regardless of when it is put on, Hernandez called the mock trial a great opportunity to teach children about the judicial branch of the government, as well as the roles each individual plays in the legal process, from the judge and the bailiff, to the attorneys, their clients and the witnesses.
“The SJA really enjoys reaching out to the schools,” he said. “They seemed to really enjoy it. The kids were all paying attention — they were excited.”
After explaining a little about defamation and their role as jurors, SJA service members and civilians began acting out their parts in the courtroom. Testimony from four witnesses, along with the plaintiff and defendant, explained that the issue between the Wolf and Piggly began when he allegedly ate her brothers.
“She alleged that he ate all of her brothers, and she posted a Tweet defaming him, so he filed a lawsuit against her,” Hernandez said. “We gave the kids the opportunity to hear all the facts and determine who won the case.”
Wood Elementary fifth-grader Mieke said she enjoyed learning about the vital role a jury plays in this country.
“Jurors are important because they decide if the person is innocent or not, and I feel like they have a big say in if a person goes to prison,” she said.
Mieke said she found Piggly innocent of defaming the Wolf, going against the majority of her peers.
“I think people can be wrong about what they expect to happen, and the pig was correct because the Wolf did do the crime so you have to consider all of the facts,” she said.
One of the other jurors, Wood Elementary fifth-grader Liam, said having good witnesses is important in convincing a jury of guilt or innocence.
“They both had a lot of information but the information about the Wolf seemed real,” he said. “I decided that Piggly was guilty because she didn’t have a lot of people there to help back up what she said.”
Hernandez said everyone seemed to enjoy the event.
“The kids were laughing because some of the characters that we had really got into their roles, and I could tell that everyone was having a lot of fun,” he said.