ORLANDO – Forty youngsters from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida put their summer legal learning to use on August 1 by conducting mock trials at the offices of 9th Judicial Circuit Public Defender Robert Wesley. Since mid-June the students, ages 10-17, have been preparing to match legal wits as a culmination of Law Camp, a 12-year partnership with Wesley’s office and Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida.

Attorneys, legal interns, and other professionals from the Public Defender’s Office have used games, presentations and interactive video to teach youngsters about our legal system, including:

  • Legal roles/process
  • Bill of Rights
  • Case mitigation
  • Pleas and offers for case resolution
  • Criminal sentencing

Robert Wesley, Public Defender for the Ninth Judicial Circuit, addresses the defense team.

“We’re happy to introduce the students to our legal system, the many career opportunities within the legal profession, and the link between understanding our courts and good citizenship,” said Wesley.

Members from the Universal Orlando Foundation, Buenaventura Lakes (Kissimmee), Parramore Teen Extension, and Joe R. Lee (Eatonville) branches of Boys & Girls Clubs participated in the seven-week camp.

“This is the type of program that’s extremely valuable to our Club members. Not only does it teach them about the important workings of the judicial branch of government, but it shows them how important it is that they remain on the right side of the law,” said Gary Cain, President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida.

The mock trial focused on whether students of a fictional high school had broken Florida’s recently passed Anti-Cyberbullying Act. Following an hour-long trial, the jury found the young defendants not guilty of bullying a fellow student through social media.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.