Goldilocks v. The State of Texas


Students from The Well STEAM and Literacy Center had a unique opportunity to experience a mock trial at the Gray County Courthouse. This was the first time the courthouse has done a mock trial to educate students.

The Well has been dedicated to helping the students of Pampa and surrounding areas with their education since February 2016. Paul Rayburn, the creator of The Well and former Pampa Junior High math teacher, fosters an environment that helps families with their child’s educational needs and works to inspire a love of learning.

Rayburn reached out to Jeri Ann Woelfle, an employee of the Gray County Courthouse, to set up a tour of the courthouse for The Well’s civics class. The purpose of the tour was to show and inform students about the services and responsibilities provided by each department in the courthouse.

The tour of the courthouse began on the first floor where the students learned about the Justice of the Peace. Next, they went to the second floor and toured the County Clerk’s Office. The students learned about the roles of each employee and what purpose the County Clerk’s Office serves.

In addition to learning about the judicial system and the jobs of each employee, a mock trial was set up by Woelfle and Krissie Dudley to show the students the basics of a jury trial.

The mock trial was based on the classic fairy tale story, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. After entering their house, eating their porridge, and sleeping in their beds, Goldilocks was persecuted by the State of Texas on behalf of the Three Bears.

Woelfle gave a brief explanation of the trial.

“The trial focused on criminal trespass, criminal mischief, and theft. We had real attorneys representing both parties, one for prosecution and one for defense,” Woelfle said. “Mama bear, Papa bear, and Baby bear all testified to what happened. Goldilocks testified in her defense. There was a woodcutter who also saw her and testified on her behalf, as well.”

The students from The Well played the role of the juror. They got first-hand experience of what it would be like to serve on an actual jury trial.

Employees from all departments of the courthouse participated in this lively event.

The State of Texas was represented by Gray County Attorney, Josh Seabourn. Goldilocks’ defense council was represented by District Attorney, Franklin McDonough. Gray County Judge Chris Porter presided over the case.

Papa Bear was played by Mark Watson, an employee of the Juvenile Probation Department. Mama Bear was played by Tiffany, the Gray County Attorney’s Secretary. Baby Bear was played by Judge Karen Goodman, Justice of the Peace for Precincts 1 and 3. The woodcutter, Candace, works in the County Clerk’s Office. Goldilocks was played by Imelda.

To match the fairy tale setting, each student -as jurors- had Disney-inspired names that were called upon.

The girls were given names like Tinkerbell, Cinderella, Ariel, and Minnie. The boys were given names like Jack-Jack, Peter Pan, Tigger, and Captain America.

The students got to listen to the testimonies provided. Once the trial concluded, the students returned to the classroom to deliberate on the verdict of the court case. As well, each student received a personalized Certificate of Service that denoted their role in the case.

Woelfle expressed her opinion of the event.

“It was a lot of fun! The mock trial should have been 30 minutes but it ended up going for an hour and fifteen minutes,” Woelfle said. “Everyone in the courthouse came together and made this trial possible. It showed the kids the benefit from participating in a mock trial and hopefully sparked their interest in the law.”

Seabourn, representing the State of Texas, expressed his opinion of participating in the event.

“I thought it was fun and I think the kids had fun with it,” Seabourn said. “It was thrown together quickly. Jeri Ann did a great job of brainstorming it and getting all the volunteers together.”

Seabourn then went on to specify what Goldilocks was being formally accused of.

“Goldilocks was accused of Criminal Trespass, stealing porridge, and breaking a chair at the Three Bears’ house. We called the Three Bears to testify on behalf of the State of Texas.”

Seabourn went on to note his interest in participating in another mock trial.

“Of course, I would be interested,” Seabourn said. “Anytime we can get kids to interact with the court/legal system in a positive and beneficial way, it helps everybody. It fosters an interest in this whole industry.

Everybody put in the effort to make sure the kids had a good time.”

Porter, who presided over the case, expressed his opinion on the event.

“Jeri Ann and Krissy Dudley got this together. I was on board with it,” Porter said. “They put in the effort to get this together and I was super proud to be a part of it.”

Porter went on to describe the benefit the trial provided for the courthouse.

“It was great being the judge over the case. It was nice to have things not be so serious,” Porter said. “It was nice to make this trial as close to the real thing as possible while still making it fun for the kids. It was nice to have this refreshing event in the courtroom.”

In addition to being open to participating in another mock trial, Porter goes on to note that events like these demystify the courthouse.

“I want the courthouse to be open to people to come to do things like this. There is a lot of fear coming into the courthouse and this would be a great educational feature for everyone,” Porter said. “We do business in the courthouse and sometimes, while the circumstances are very serious, there is a reason to be there, and there’s nothing to be scared of. I think what we tried to get across is that these are necessary proceedings and not to be so scared of the setting.”

Porter thanked Woelfle for the time she put in to get the tour and mock trial to happen.

“Jeri Ann got this together. I appreciate how hard she worked on this and how she got everyone together,” Porter said. “She got all the offices on all the floors involved. I think Jeri Ann did a great job and she is an asset to Gray County.”
For more information about Gray County Court House, call (806) 669-8007 or visit 205 N. Russell St.