Fairytale Trials

Based on a concept from CLCT Director and Chancellor Professor of Law Fredric Lederer, our Fairytale Trial program is a public outreach mission to teach K-12 students the basics of the U.S. justice system. Each year, students in Virginia are invited to participate in a mock trials in which witnesses and parties are based on classic fairytale characters or creatures. The characters and their respective classic stories are each given an odd or idiosyncratic twist that creates a legal problem that is at the center of the mock trial. CLCT staff participate in the mock trials as witnesses, judges, and counsel. The K-12 students, will serve as the jury and determine the verdict.

Although fanciful (and highly entertaining), the Fairytale Trials can also be immensely realistic. While typically set in hypothetical “jurisdictions,” the trials usually comply with the Federal Rules of Criminal and Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence. Use of the McGlothlin Courtroom allows for electronic presentation of evidence and remote testimony, simulating the high-tech nature of the modern courtroom and facilitating CLCT’s mission as an ambassador of legal technology.

Through these programs, the next generation of lawyers, judges, and parties are exposed to the American justice system, issues of evidence and reliable testimony, problem solving, persuasion, and multiple ways of viewing an issue. Since its inception in the 1990s, this program has enjoyed massive success and popularity, as evidenced by its frequent coverage by the local media. Currently, CLCT conducts this program approximately twice per semester, serving over 200 students a year. Teachers may request that a trial be scheduled for their students.

School teachers, administrators, and parents in Virginia are welcome to contact CLCT about the possibility of their students participating in this highly-entertaining, informative, and educational program.

For further information, including dates of the next Fairytale Trial, please contact us at clct@wm.edu or 757-221-2494.