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Order in the court for local students visiting Ellsworth

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Josephine Pepin
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from the 28th Bomb Wing Judge Advocate Group hosted a fourth grade class from Vandenburg Elementary School at Ellsworth Air Force Base for a mock trial and election in celebration of Law Day on May 1, 2024.

Law Day is a day of national dedication to the principles of government under law. Its programs are conducted by bar groups, courts, schools, youth groups, and community organizations, or any person or group that wants to spread the important message of the rule of law and its critical role in society.

“Law Day is an outreach opportunity to show why the legal field is so important in today's life, as well as why the United States is so unique in regards to their judicial system,” said 1st Lt. Nicole Lenhard, 28th BW/JAG Chief of legal assistance. “We wanted to do something for the kids so they could understand the legal process and the legal field and actually see how a case would play out.”

For this year’s theme, “Voices of Democracy,” the JAG team held a mock trial of Airman 1st Class Gold E. Locks against Maj. Mom A. Bear, Pop A. Bear, and Babe E. Bear for crimes related to trespassing, larceny, and destruction of non-government property. Locks had allegedly entered the Bears’ home without permission, stole porridge from the residence, and broke personal property while on the premises.

During the trial, the class acted as jurors in the court as JAG members acted as the prosecution and defense teams. A narrator explained different aspects of the trial during the event and jurors were allowed to ask questions of people on the witness stand to decide if Locks was guilty of the charges against her.

The jury found Locks guilty of larceny and destruction of non-government property; she was found not guilty of trespassing.

After the trial, the mock election entailed Lenhard telling the kids about how elections work. She also presented two candidates the students could vote for: dogs or cats. The students were told what values each candidate represented. Once the election was performed and votes were tallied, dogs were declared the winner.

Overall, the event garnered a lot of engagement from the fourth graders and helped build stronger community connections with Ellsworth AFB.

“It’s important to teach about law at such a young age,” said Staff Sgt. Olivia Cantos, Non-commissioned Officer in Charge of Military Justice from the 28th BW/JAG. “You can see that the kids already know so much by watching TV that they asked very critical questions during the mock trial. They’re at that stage where they’re thinking about what they want to be when they grow up, and this is an option for them.”

For more information on the history and importance of Law Day, please visit

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