Mock trial to show Scouts drunken driving perils

May 06, 1994|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Sun Staff Writer

Howard County District Judge James N. Vaughan hears scores of misdemeanor and traffic cases, and an occasional felony.

Tomorrow, however, he will preside at the drunken driving "trial" of an adult Boy Scout leader in the Howard County Council chambers, before an audience of Boy Scouts.

The mock trial is part of Law Awareness Day for the Boys Scouts in the National Pike District, which includes all of Howard County. The 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m event is intended to shed light on law enforcement and the justice system for an estimated 300 Scouts, ages 8 to 18.

Though it may be only a mock trial, Judge Vaughan warns that he will treat the proceedings as if they were real -- and that the prosecution had better be on its toes.

"If I'm not satisfied they have proven the case, I'll find him not guilty," he said of the defendant.

A district court judge for 12 years and a former Boy Scout, Judge Vaughan said that the mock trial is an excellent way for the Scouts to gain a better understanding of courtroom procedures.

And it will be an unusual venue for the judge, who rarely handles juvenile cases. "I don't see young people in the district court," he said, except in rare instances when juveniles are tried as adults.

Edward J. Puls Jr., a retired Howard County police officer who is an attorney, will be the defense attorney. Michael Weal, chief of the county state's attorney's District Court division, will be the prosecutor. The objective is to "show them that drunk driving doesn't pay," Mr. Puls said.

Before the trial, the same adult Boy Scout leader will participate in a mock drunken driving arrest, undergoing the usual arrest procedure, including taking a Breathalyzer test and being locked up, said Sgt. Steven E. Keller, a county police spokesman.

The day will feature rappeling and self-defense demonstrations by the Howard County Police Special Operations Section, displays of seized illegal drugs, and a helicopter and a K-9 tracking display by the Maryland State Police. Also participating will be the Howard County Sheriff's Office, Maryland Natural Resources Police, Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office and Howard County Fire and Rescue Services.

The Scouts' Law Awareness Day, first held here in 1988, gives the Scouts a new perspective on police officers, their duties and the law, said Glenn Lee Hopkins, a spokesman for the National Pike District and an assistant scoutmaster for Troop 702 in Highland.

"It will make them better citizens later on in life," Mr. Hopkins said. "This is what scouting is all about."

The Scouts, who have paid $3.25 to participate, each will receive a county police badge-like patch as a memento. The Scouts are part of the 79-year-old Baltimore Area Council, which includes approximately 37,000 Scouts from Baltimore City and the surrounding counties.

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