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Video: 8th Graders at Lowville Academy
Participate in Mock Jury Selection in Lewis County Court
12/13/18 05:30pm        By: Nick Altmire
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    Lowville, NY- Lowville Academy students, in the eighth-grade English classes
    of Dianna Cooper and Courtney McCreadie, were provided the opportunity to
    learn about our criminal justice system firsthand on Wednesday, with a trip over
    to Lewis County Court.

    The three classes each individually participated in a mock jury selection,
    grasping a better understanding of how the process works.

    The experience comes as the students are reading Twelve Angry Men, a
    courtroom drama written by Reginald Rose focusing on the jury of a homicide
    trial.

    The courtroom resembled an official proceeding, with the Honorable Daniel R.
    King presiding, Assistant District Attorney Mark Lemieux prosecuting, and
    defense attorney Gary Miles representing the defendant. Chief Court Clerk
    Deborah Earl and court security staff also participated in the sessions.

    The students were presented with a mock scenario, where one of the students
    had been "arrested" on a felony grand larceny charge after being accused of
    stealing his brother's X-box and accessories, valued at over $1,000.

    Judge King informed the students that felony cases are generally heard in
    county court, with every defendant having the right to a jury trial. Judge King
    stressed that every defendant is "shrouded in the presumption of innocence,"
    and has no burden to prove their innocence. The burden, he explained, lies
    with the prosecution to prove the defendant's guilt, beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Students then learned the process of how a jury is selected, with some of the
    students chosen as "jurors" and others assisting the attorneys. The attorneys
    then questioned the "potential jurors", with Judge King explaining
    circumstances that could prevent someone from serving on a jury.

    After the mock jury was seated, attorneys presented their case and then the
    "jury" was taken to the jury room for "deliberations", ultimately delivering a not
    guilty verdict on the first vote.

    The students left with a better understanding of how our criminal justice system
    works in the United States.

    "It was a good experience," student Brendan Hamburg, who played the
    "defendant" in the scenario, said afterward, joking he wasn't sure if he'd end up
    behind bars. (Brendan's dad, Tod, is a security guard with NYS Unified Courts
    in Lewis County, escorting him into the courtroom in the video.)

    Our full video from one of the sessions is included below. We encourage
    anyone who has not yet been called for jury duty to watch, for a great overview
    on the entire process. Our thanks go out to Judge King and Lowville Academy,
    for allowing us to film the session to share with the community!