CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Dozens of local middle school students made an appearance in court Wednesday for all the right reasons.
Seventh and eighth graders from Thomasboro Academy participated in a mock trial, learning the ins and outs of the justice system.
Here's the case: an argument over money between two famous best friends turned violent. Spongebob Squarepants sued Patrick Star for simple assault.
"Did Patrick Star hit you?” state prosecutors acted out by seventh graders asked.
“Yes," said the seventh-grade student who played the role of Spongebob. "Over my head and punched me."
The student claimed self-defense in justifying the hypothetical assault.
This is just an example of the in-depth questions the students asked during the hour-long trial.
After several testimonies from eye witnesses, the jury, who were eighth graders, came back deadlocked.
While it was all fun and games, the purpose of the trail was supposed to feel as real as possible.
Yolanda Trotman, a former Mecklenburg County judge, founded the program through her nonprofit organization “iSpeak Now.”
“We wanted to give them a true to life experience but make it fun,” said Judge Trotman.
"We partner with officers and detectives from the police department," she added. "So literally the child playing the bailiff works with a real deputy. The child who is playing a role of the detective works with a real detective."
The ultimate goal of the program is to encourage passion, pride and confidence in young adults; and the students say the trial did just that.
"It makes me feel like I have authority, Kyla Drayton said.
Drayton acted as the judge in the trial and now plans to practice law.
“I can actually see myself doing it in the future," Drayson added.
Shayla Evans who was the defense attorney during the mock trial has also found her passion.
“I do think I can be a lawyer," she said. “As long as I pay attention and go deep into the detail, I do think it'll be very easy."
To stay up to date on upcoming mock trials and the organization go to www.ispeaknow.org.
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