Using fairy tales to teach about the legal system

It was no fairy tale ending with a whimsical ‘happy ever after’ for Snow White.  Instead, she ended up in a messy lawsuit.  A jury  composed of talen­­ted guests joined the Minnesota School of Business staff and faculty to determine Snow White’s fate.   Set at the Edge of the Forest Courthouse at the trial of the Wicked Stepmother v. Snow White, evidence was presented that Snow White had stolen the trademark “The Fairest One of All.”  The Wicked Stepmother alleged that she owned the title “The Fairest One of All.”

The trial took place at the recent Minnesota School of Business-Moorhead open house.  Snow White was played by Dean of Education, Melinda Rustad. The Wicked Stepmother was played by Kristi Leverson, Service Learning Coordinator.  During the open house, guests were able to pick the roles they wanted to play.  Some played characters, other witnesses or jurors.

Regularly, mock trials are used to teach students about the legal system.  In this case, the fairy tale concluded in a trial that offered students of all programs, prospective students, and their families a chance to learn about how a courtroom is set up, the players involved in a trial, and the role of a jury. The participants learned what lawyers face in presenting all relevant facts and legal arguments.  They also experienced what judges and jurors go through to find a just resolution of the issues involved.   Judge Stacey Tronson, who in real life is the Paralegal Chair at the Moorhead campus, acknowledged that the participants probably knew the story of Snow White, but this was a chance to see the story played out in a court of law.  She then asked them to throw out what they already knew about Snow White and listen to the evidence.

Fortunately, for Snow White, it turned out that the jurors didn’t think she was guilty of stealing the trademark “The Fairest One of All.”

Although she lost the case, the Wicked Stepmother saw value in the experience.  “It was very enjoyable and the trial offered the children a glimpse of how the court system works. It was a terrific event,
enjoyed by (almost) all in attendance. The only one who didn’t enjoy it was me since I lost the case.”

Snow White doesn’t seem bothered by the fact that her stepmother sued her.  “As Snow White, I believe in happiness, kindness and the truth. I am definitely not guilty as I was voted as such from a jury of my peers. I had an extremely fair trial – it was even pretty. And yes, she may come (for Thanksgiving) as long as she doesn’t bring the apple pie. “