Margret Atkinson’s seventh-grade class at Northwestern Middle School held a mock trial Oct. 19 to determine the guilt or innocence of Napoleon, the pig from George Orwell’s literary classic “Animal Farm.” Napoleon was charged with crimes against fellow animals.

Written and presented entirely by the seventh-graders, the students stressed the importance of structure and focus in writing, Atkinson said.

L.T. Dupre, a Zachary attorney and father of student Anna Dupre, along with Tony Iannitelli, a patent attorney from Zachary and father of student Susanna Iannitelli, worked with the students prior and during the trial, consulting for the respective sides in the case.

Attorney Michele Staggs, the mother of a former NMS student, also consulted in the case, instructing the students on the best way to enter evidence into court.

Using the text from “Animal Farm” as the facts in the case, they submitted evidence, posed and answered cross examination questions and played the roles of both the prosecuting and defense attorneys and the witnesses.

“?‘Animal Farm’ allowed them to use their knowledge of the text to support arguments established in the opening statements,” Atkinson said. “Throughout the trial, the students presented evidence that supported their arguments with each side working as a cohesive unit. They did a superb job.”

Lynn Maloy played the role of the judge. Now a practicing attorney, Maloy is the mother of another former NMS student.

Additional consulting services were offered by Walt Green, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana, and Holly Sheets, a victim-witness coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Atkinson said the legal professionals attended the trial and practices.

“They took time out of their busy, busy schedules to support our students’ efforts, and we’re grateful,” Atkinson said. “All in all, both sides’ arguments were strong and focused, but the prosecution was unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the guilt of Napoleon.”

Atkinson said the real winners in the trial were the students’ learning about the judicial and writing processes.