CHARLESTON – Judge Louis H. “Duke” Bloom of the 13th Judicial Circuit recently hosted a mock trial for more than 40 4th- and 5th-grade students in his courtroom in the Kanawha County Judicial
Building in Charleston.
Bloom enjoyed the experience and thinks the mock trial
program is an important one.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” Bloom told The West Virginia Record. “It’s a wonderful
Bloom said the mock trial program benefits everyone
“It’s an interesting civics lesson that [also] benefits
court personnel,” Bloom said. “It keeps you in touch with the community. It
The judge said the parents of participants are also pleased their children have the opportunity to see the real-life inside workings
of the courtroom and get to experience what it’s like to be part of a trial.
Bloom said he received an email from one parent whose child participated as a
jury member in one of the mock trials.
“It was just like a real jury would do,” Bloom said, passing
along the parent’s sentiment.
Bloom said anyone with the chance to be part of a mock
trial should take advantage of the opportunity.
“It’s part of an outreach in the court system to educate the
kids,” Bloom said. “I encourage other schools and programs to go to their local
courts…and ask to participate.”
The most recent mock trial, held Sept. 26 for 4th- and 5th-grade students at Kenna Elementary School, is the latest in a
long-running effort in the West Virginia court system to allow students to
participate in the trial process.
Some mock trials have directly
reflected what the students have been learning in school about the court
system. For example, in 2013, students from Stonewall Jackson Middle School in
Charleston visited Bloom’s courtroom to perform a mock trial they developed
based on the novel "Monster" by Walter Dean Myers. The award-winning book tells the story of a young man accused of having a role in a drug store
robbery in which a man was killed.
Those 7th-grade students participated in the mock trial while
they were taking a year-long government and law class.
Two other groups of Kanawha County middle school students
performed mock trial transcripts they wrote themselves in 2009 as part of the
Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia's Law Adventure
program, launched by the appeals court in 2008 for middle school and
high school students in the region.
The West Virginia program that asked students to script
their own trial based on one of three cases invited middle schools in Kanawha,
Mason, Monongalia, Greenbrier and Mineral counties to take part in the Law
Adventure program when it was a pilot project, and the courthouse trips were
funded by a grant from the West Virginia Bar Foundation.
Bloom, who was born and raised in Charleston and received
his law degree from West Virginia University College of Law in 1981, was
elected to the 13th Judicial Circuit (Kanawha County) in 2000 and
re-elected in 2008.
Bloom has a history of working with children within the
court system. In 2012 he took over all truancy cases in Kanawha County
involving the parents of elementary school children. He has also been active in
the Robes to Schools program, the West Virginia Law Adventure program and other
civic education programs.