UW College Of Law Tries John Wilkes Booth

Apr 8, 2016

Credit Spence Law Firm Historical Production

The University of Wyoming College of Law will hold  the second annual Spencer Law Firm Historical Trial Production. This year, it's a mock trial of John Wilkes Booth, who famously murdered President Lincoln. The objective of the mock trial is to apply modern evidence law standards to a trial that would have taken place in the 19th century.

Steve Easton is a law professor at the university. He says the trial is based on historical events surrounding President Lincoln's assassination, even though Booth never saw a trial. "We had to have John Wilkes Booth survive getting shot in order to have this trial. But basically we try to be as true as possible to history, and put on a trial that did not ever happen back in the day," Easton says.

Law student Emily Williams will be assisting Easton in representing the prosecution. She says booth probably wouldn't have had a fair trial. "I think it would be safe to say that if John Wilkes Booth had walked into a courtroom in 1865, it would have been a fairly short trial. However, we have different standards, and there is the question of insanity and people have a little more education and background now. Using these modern standards will be interesting to see how we view events that would have probably turned out quite different today," Williams says.

The mock trial will be as realistic as possible, with Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Keith Kautz presiding, and a jury including members of the public. The mock trial will take place on Monday at 6pm in the UW College of Law.