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Verdict was Not Guilty at the 23rd Annual Mock Trial of Santa Claus on December 10

Following his December 8 arrest at James Bonham Academy for handing out gifts and candy to the school children, Kris Kringle (aka Santa Claus) was tried before U.S. District Court Judge Henry Bemporad on charges of violating the separation of church and state. The 23rd annual mock trial took place at John H. Wood Jr. United States Courthouse, 655 César E. Chávez Blvd. on Saturday, December 10, 2016.

The prosecution and defense attorneys were played by Boy Scouts from Troop 285 as part of their Citizenship in the Nation Merit Badge. Other troop members played the parts of Kris Kringle, the postman, the psychiatrist, and the sociologist. Pack 285 Webelos played the court staff parts of bailiff, court reporter, court clerk, and law clerk. Jurists included 4th graders who attend school at Bonham Academy where the alleged infraction took place.

  

Kris Kringle was acquitted of all charges again this year and his victory was celebrated at a reception of cookies and juice immediately following the trial. “I was so glad we got Santa off because he brings joy to kids,” said Dylan Sizer, Troop 285 Second Class Scout and co-defense attorney. Alamo Area Council Scout Executive Michael de los Santos attended this year's trial and said "I believe Santa was released because he was giving candy to the judge and jury. He's such a nice guy. Santa had everyone smiling and feeling good."

In 23 years of holding this trial, only once in 2014 was Kris Kringle actually found guilty. That particular year, Luis Miranda, a Troop 285 dad, played Kringle with his own son as lead prosecutor. Prosecuting his own dad probably made for some entertaining family conversations over the holidays. 

Inspiration for this annual event providing Scouts and students with real-world lessons in the judicial system comes from the beloved holiday classic movie “Miracle on 34th Street.” Santa’s trial is a community service project of the United States District Court Committee in conjunction with the San Antonio Bar Association, Boy Scout Troop 285 from Coker United Methodist Church, and Bonham Academy.

Special thanks to the following who helped make this event possible: The Honorable Henry Bemporad, Siboney Barajas, Andrea Castillejo, Jeannette Clack, Daritza M. Coronel Castillo, Blanca Gebhart, Lynn Evans, James Hoffman, Leslie Hyman, Bob Kilgore, Ben Lagueux, Brooks Meltzer, Luis Miranda, Michael Oakes, Soña Ramirez, Roxana Reynero-Becerra, Joe Rubio, Gilberto Santos, Rebecca Saucedo, James Shirley, William Webber, Honorable Orlando Garcia, Strasburger Attorneys at Law, San Antonio Police Department, United States District Clerk’s Office, and United States Marshal’s Office.

By Amber Sizer, Troop 285 Parent