Monday, October 20, 2008

NKU Mock Trial To Explore Creation Science

This from

Northern Kentucky University will host a unique interactive mock trial that will turn local citizens into jurors on the issue of whether public school science teachers should be allowed to teach creation science, which attempts to use scientific means to prove the Genesis account of creation.

The trial will take place at 7 p.m. on Oct. 22, at NKU’s University Center Otto M. Budig Theater and is free and open to the public. The first 200 people in attendance will have an opportunity to serve as jurors, using small remote control clickers to register their opinions both before and after the trial. At the conclusion of the proceeding, they will decide the case.

The event is sponsored by the Northern Kentucky Forum, the NKU Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement and Nonprofit Development and the NKU Chase College of Law Center for Excellence in Advocacy.

Mark Neikirk, the Scipps Howard Center’s executive director said, “It is part of the mission of the Scripps Howard Center to conduct public forums. I’ve heard (NKU) President Votruba state many times that a college campus should be a safe place for difficult conversations.”

The mock trial is the first of what Northern Kentucky Forum, a partnership among the Scripps Howard Center, Legacy and Vision 2015, hopes will become monthly events that attract diverse audiences, advocate for public dialogue, provide for audience input and allow all sides of a given issue to be represented...

The Trial: Scott v. Chandler County School Board

The trial centers around the termination of fictitious biology teacher Susan Scott (a traditionally trained “evolution” adherent), who according to her complaint, encouraged students to “explore creation theories.”

Scott, who will be played by Simon Kenton High School teacher Heather Mastin, is suing the fictitious Chandler County School Board for wrongful termination and seeks reinstatement, compensatory damages and a judicial declaration that the school board violated her First Amendment rights.

Scott will be represented by local attorney Phil Taliaferro, who will argue that teaching creation theory is not only permitted in Kentucky, but also legally protected.

The defendant, Chandler County School Board, will be represented by Margo Grubbs, a local attorney, who will argue that Scott’s termination was justified under existing law. Scott’s chief witness will be the real-life Dr. Ben Scripture, who received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Notre Dame in1998...

The school board will be represented in court by fictional superintendent Bryan Boone, who will be played by retired Boone County Superintendent Bryan Blavatt. Its key witness will be real-life evolution advocate Ed Kagin, a Union, Ky., attorney.

As is so often the case, the legalities of the issue aren’t black and white.

Kentucky has fairly strict guidelines that suggest evolution-only instruction, but also has a pro-Genesis statute. And, of course, the question isn’t confined to the Commonwealth. It is playing out again in the national political debate – as it so often does – and is heating up in a number of states.

The trial judge will be played by retired Kenton County Circuit Court Judge Doug Stephens.

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