Fifth graders celebrate Liberty Day

Cynthia Sheeley
Posted 3/31/23

TORRINGTON – On Tuesday, March 28, all of Goshen County’s fifth-grade classes attended “Liberty Day” at the Goshen County Courthouse. This is a day for the children to learn about the judicial system and other interesting related topics.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Fifth graders celebrate Liberty Day


TORRINGTON – On Tuesday, March 28, all of Goshen County’s fifth-grade classes attended “Liberty Day” at the Goshen County Courthouse. This is a day for the children to learn about the judicial system and other interesting related topics.

“Liberty Day is a statewide and nationwide program,” Goshen County and Prosecuting Attorney Eric Boyer said. “Here we’ve been doing it for 20 years or more. The idea is that they’re all in their civics classes learning some of the same basic concepts of constitutional law, what courts are and the separation of powers and branches of government. Every year we put on a quasi-official proceeding.”

This year’s event was organized by Deputy Goshen County and Prosecuting Attorney Colby Sturgeon. Several attorneys throughout the area and court staff were present to help out with the event.

“I’d like to welcome all of the fifth-grade classes from Goshen County for this presentation,” District Judge Edward Buchanan began. “We have a number of individuals in the room who are helping put on this presentation for you today.”

Along with Buchanan and Boyer, a few of the other people present were Goshen County and Prosecuting Attorney Eric Boyer, and Public Defender David MacDonald, among several others.

The first presentation was a mock trial featuring a juvenile who had been accused of stealing. 

On the defendant’s side were himself, his parents and his attorney. The other side was the prosecuting attorney for the State of Wyoming and a representative for the Department of Family Services. 

For the skit, everyone played their part and went through all of the juvenile proceedings as if it was an actual case. Throughout the case, they emphasized the juvenile’s privacy, the parents’ responsibility and the different levels of consequences for the crime. 

Later on, they did another mock trial in the circuit courtroom with Circuit Judge Nathaniel Hibben.

The next speaker was Goshen County K9 Deputy Herb Irons who did a demonstration with his dog Si. Si is a 10-year-old German shepherd and is trained for drugs, tracking and evidence collection. Si can detect narcotics, ground disturbances and find objects that have been thrown away or concealed. 

“I’ve had Si for six, coming on seven years,” Irons said. “The funnest thing that I’ve ever done is canine work. Si is getting older, so, today’s going to be his last time doing Liberty Day.”

For their demonstration, Irons hid drugs in the courtroom for Si to find. During his presentation, Irons provided some background on himself and Si and answered questions.

“I think this is our fifth year doing this,” Irons told the Telegram. “It’s one of my favorite demonstrations that I do. It’s nice to have one place where they gather everyone, and they all get to see it at one time. It’s a good time and the children get to ask questions.”

The final presentation of the day was about court reporting. Buchanan and his court reporter Chase Frazier spoke about the ins and outs of the profession and the importance of a court transcript.

“The court reporter types down everything verbatim, everything you say,” Buchanan explained to the audience. “After you have a trial, you have the right to appeal. If you appeal, it means that you don’t agree with the decision that happened in this court. For the higher court to be able to know what happened in the lower court, they need a transcript of everything that was said and all of the evidence that was admitted.”

Frazier explained that a court reporter’s job is to capture the live testimony of proceedings, whether it be transcripts for court proceedings or subtitles for news and sports. To do this quickly and effectively they have a special keyboard called a stenotype machine. On this machine, Frazier said he can type 260 words per minute. 

This event helped the children learn more about the judicial system in a fun and interesting way.

When asked if she enjoyed the event, Timberlee Easton, a student from Trail Elementary, said, “Yes, I liked it a lot. (My favorite part) was the dog, that was fun. Something that I’ve learned was not to do any bad stuff and how you can train dogs a lot and do different commands with them.”

“I think (Liberty Day) is a great educational event,” Dean of Students of Trail Elementary Rick Cotant said. “I used to teach civics and I think this is great.”