Fairy tale makes courtroom drama

NEIGHBORS

May 10, 2002|By Betsy Diehl | Betsy Diehl,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

IT SEEMS the law finally caught up with Gold E. Locks, when a jury found the flaxen-haired porridge-pilferer guilty of trespassing.

Nearly 60 people attended the mock trial of The Three Bears vs. Gold E. Locks, held Saturday at the Savage branch library. But they were not there because they were concerned about Gold E. Lock's fate or whether the bears would be compensated for damages. Spectators attended to learn about the judicial process and the workings of the courtroom.

"It's a venue of public education for the basic knowledge of how the justice system works," said Diane Li, assistant branch manager for the library and coordinator of the program. "It's very spontaneous and lots of fun."

The trial, based on fictional characters from the classic fairy tale, had enough realistic elements to give those who attended a glimpse of real courtroom proceedings. Howard Circuit Court Judge Dennis M. Sweeney, wearing a black judge's robe and wielding a gavel, presided over the case. Assistant State's Attorneys Claude deVastey and Colleen Markey served as plaintiff's counsel and defendant's council, respectively.

Police Officer Sue Ensko of the Howard County Police Department served as bailiff. Mary Lewis, 11, coifed with a thick mop of yellow yarn, played Gold E. Locks, and her mother, Donna, played Mrs. Locks. Bear family members were Donna Thewes, Tom Neary and Aaron Criss.

The jury, made up of children ages 7 to 15, was selected randomly from the audience. Unlike the other participants, who followed printed scripts provided by the American Bar Association, jurors watched and listened to arguments and decided the verdict based on testimony.

"I thought the jury was paying rapt attention," Sweeney said after the trial, which yielded the mischievous moppet a sentence of community service. "They went beyond making their decision."

Jurors were Haley Sweeton, Eish Patel, Ethan Criss, Graham Denhard, Langan Denhard, Trystan Denhard, Morgan Denhard, Joshua Law, Kyle Pearce, Matt Donnelly, Jeremy Howard and Daniel Adams.

Before the trial got under way, Sweeney, deVastey and Markey took turns discussing their professions and fielding questions from the audience.

The trial then proceeded, complete with witnesses and exhibits such as an empty porridge bowl, a broken chair and yellow locks left behind on a bear's pillow.

"Gold E. Locks had a pretty good case," Sweeney said in a phone interview this week. Her downfall, he said, was talking too much on the stand. "She would have done a better job to just take the Fifth Amendment and not testify," he said.

Sweeney said that the case reminded him of some of the real trials he presides over.

"It's not unlike some criminal defendants who take the stand and shoot themselves in the foot," he said. "They get up there thinking they're going to talk about `X,' and they end up admitting to `Y.'"

"She had a pretty good case if she'd just kept her mouth shut," he added.

Remembering artist

Friends and family of the late Janis Middleton will gather at Carroll Baldwin Hall this evening for a remembrance.

The longtime Savage resident passed away at age 50 last month, after a fall while visiting her hometown of Winchester, Va.

Her husband of 20 years, Chuck, survives her, as do her children, Jacob and Jessica, both students at Hammond High School.

Middleton, known locally for her strawberry preserves, was an artist, and some of her work will be displayed at the hall, 9035 Baltimore St., Savage.

A potluck will be served. Hours are 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Information: 410-792-9357.

Reservoir PTSA officers

The charter members of the Reservoir High School PTSA elected officers and adopted by-laws for the organization at a meeting April 22 at Lime Kiln Middle School.

Officers are Ann McGhee, president; Maribeth Donohue, first vice president; Suzann Medicus, second vice president; Kathy Mattos, treasurer; Lisa Ghessie, recording secretary; Laima Rivers, corresponding secretary; and Vernonika Carella and Mary Goodwin, delegates.

Anyone interested in volunteering for a PTSA committee may call Ann McGhee at 301-498-8549.

Parting words

Darlene Thims of Savage is usually too busy mothering to celebrate Mother's Day.

"Mother's Day is just another day that you work," said Thims, 40. "If you want a nice meal, you cook it yourself."

She and her husband of 23 years, Paul, have seven children, ages 9 through 21, all living at home.

"And then you add the boyfriends and girlfriends and all the kids they baby-sit," Thims said. "Mom is the only one who can cook for 11-plus!"

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