Students from Belle Chasse Middle School learned about the judicial system by staging a mock trial as part of Project LEAD (Legal Enrichment and Decision-making), a program that began in 2000 and has continued under the supervision of District Attorney Charles Bally. It was designed to help students recognize and analyze the potential consequences of poor decision making.
The trials placed students in the shoes of prosecutors, defense attorneys, witnesses, victims, and defendants in a real court room setting. Students acted out the various roles of a fictitious case involving “Sandy Storm”, who was in violation of possession of drugs on school grounds. Presiding over the trials were 25th Judicial District Court Judges Kevin Conner and Michael Clement.
Project LEAD is taught to every 6th grader in our parish by one of the five assistant district attorneys: First Assistant Robert White, Jerry Lobrano, Mary Touzet, Ned McGowan and Sarah Tesvich. Belle Chasse Middle School is taught in the Fall semester while Phoenix, South Plaquemines, Boothville-Venice and OLPH are taught in the spring.
The LEAD curriculum reflects on fact patterns in which characters approach various moral and legal crossroads. These are designed to illustrate how easy it can be to step over the line without even being aware of it. These fact patterns provide an interesting basis for class discussion. By focusing on peer pressure, responsibility, self-respect, self-control and self-esteem, Project LEAD gives students the tools necessary to avoid many of the pitfalls and traps that often lead to delinquent conduct and criminal activity.
Project LEAD is supported with funds obtained through the District Attorney’s Office Discretionary Fund.