Madison, NJ – Two thousand years ago, St. Peter was named an enemy of the state and sentenced to death by Roman law.
But what if he had a lawyer and was tried with today's procedural rules? That’s the question that St. Paul Inside the Walls, the Catholic Center for Evangelization in the Diocese of Paterson, wants to answer.
The mock trial will focus on the charges against St. Peter: blasphemy, inciting a riot, and committing crimes against the government. The prosecution must prove his guilt. A defense lawyer will fight the charges.
The trial will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, October 25, at St. Paul Inside the Walls, 205 Madison Ave., Madison. Admission to the mock trial is free.
Presiding over the trial will be the Honorable James R. Zazzali, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey, who retired from the position in 2007. The prosecutor will be Robert A. Bianchi, the Morris County Prosecutor. His defense will be provided by Domenick Carmagnola, from Carmagnola & Ritardi, who also is the past President of the Essex County Bar Association.
Both very experienced and accomplished trial lawyers share a common thread.
“I’ve known Bob (Robert) a long time, since law school,” Carmagnola said of the defense lawyer. “I definitely think that his job will be harder. He has to prove the burden of proof.”
The trial takes place in 64 A.D., when Nero is coming into his full reign over Rome and has just dealt with the aftermath of the “Great Roman Fire.” The fire has left Rome’s financial infrastructure devastated and Romans began to blame their emperor. Though historical accounts differ on what role Nero played during the blaze, it is known that he would go on to implicate the already unpopular Christians with setting the fire.
Preaching Christianity was illegal, punishable by death. St. Peter, the first among the Apostles of Jesus, was caught, found guilty of treason, ordered to death, and martyred with many other Christians.
Trevor Jones, a minister to those in their 20's and 30's at St. Paul's, will be playing a praetorian guard, Nero’s body guard. Monsignor John E. Hart, the pastor of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, will play the part of Peter. North Caldwell Mayor, Joe Alessi, will be playing the role of the Zealot, people who took part in a political movement of the time to overthrow the Roman Empire.
“The Catholic Church’s aim is to inspire healthy talk amongst its people and we want others to join in our conversation, hopefully this will help towards that goal,” said Msgr. Hart.
This event is free to all and 3 CLE credits will be awarded to those in the legal profession who attend.
St. Paul Inside the Walls proactively focuses on deepening Catholic faith, inviting people back to the Church and welcoming all who are searching for the beauty, truth, and goodness of God found in the practice of the Catholic Faith. Learn more at www.insidethewalls.org.