Former District Attorney Michael Povich (standing, left) served as a legal consultant during the case of Mr. Giant vs. Jack Beanstalk. DAVE BURKS PHOTO

Former DA provides legal oversight during mock trial at Mountain View

SULLIVAN — Students in Dave Burks’ combined fourth- and fifth-grade class at Mountain View School in Sullivan have been studying the three branches of government. To take a closer look at the judicial system, they’ve convened a couple of trials. The first involved The Three Bears vs. Gold E. Locks for the alleged crime of having bad manners.

A second trial involved the case of Mr. Giant vs. Jack Beanstalk for the alleged crime of stealing the white hen who lays golden eggs, the bag of gold and the magical harp. Mr. Giant brought his wife as a witness. Jack brought his mother, Mrs. Beanstalk, as a character witness.

Mrs. Beanstalk characterized Jack as “a good boy” who was just trying to provide for her and intended to return the items. He did not do so for fear that Mr. Giant would act on his threat “to grind his bones to make his bread.” Also, Jack stated that he was only borrowing the items and would bring them back. However, Mr. Giant threatened him on all three occasions with a club. Mr. Giant conceded during the trial that he, at times, would threaten humans with his club.

Michael Povich, former district attorney for Hancock and Washington counties, attended the trial and explained the applicable law to the students. In the case at hand, he described the steps in the proceedings and how “intent” is a weak defense.

The jury convened in the jurors’ room (corridor) to deliberate. Each juror had to support his or her position and then a vote was taken. Two of the jurors found Jack guilty of theft. As one jury member stated, “Even though Mrs. Giant let Jack in to have something to eat and also protected Jack by hiding him in the oven and a copper pot, it was not right for Jack to take anything without permission.”

One juror found Jack not guilty because he was threatened by Mr. Giant and was only trying to take care of himself and his mother.

After the trial, Povich took questions and explained the law as it pertains to intent as claimed by Jack. Jack’s argument was not persuasive, Povich said, because he did not have permission to take the items.

“The students learned a great lesson in the legal process,” Burks said, “and, more importantly, how to conduct themselves in a civil manner. We look forward to visiting the Hancock County courtroom in late March to see a real courtroom and get a tour of the facilities.”