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A courthouse holiday mock trial to determine who really wrote "'Twas The Night Before Christmas," first published anonymously in Troy.
A courthouse holiday mock trial to determine who really wrote "'Twas The Night Before Christmas," first published anonymously in Troy.
63 backers pledged $2,351 to help bring this project to life.

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THE TRIAL BEFORE CHRISTMAS
A Heartfelt Holiday Mock Trial in Troy, NY

Original artwork for The Trial Before Christmas by Troy artist Ben Karis-Nix.
Original artwork for The Trial Before Christmas by Troy artist Ben Karis-Nix.

SUMMARY: This Kickstarter seeks your financial support in sponsoring Troy’s second annual “Trial Before Christmas” to be held on Dec. 7, 2014. The event will be free and open to all during the 32nd Annual Victorian Stroll. All donations will go directly to production costs to make this possible.

** Note: We have reached our Kickstarter goal, ensuring that we will collect all donations. But we still very much welcome and can absolutely use your donation. Every dollar will be put directly into making this production as wonderful as possible.**

** Note 2: To watch The Trial Before Christmas live online, on Dec. 7 @ 2 p.m. (free) visit: http://rpitv.org/productions/876-the-trial-before-christmas

PROJECT HISTORY:

Last year, a small group of citizens pulled together to produce a heart-felt and homegrown event that delighted the nation while calling attention to our small American city as the place where “A Visit From St. Nicholas” was first published anonymously in The Troy Sentinel.  These beloved holiday verses, which begin with "'Twas the night before Christmas..." are responsible for imagining a distinctly American Santa Claus who was instantly known and loved around the world.

In our unique and Trojan way, we staged a full-blown mock trial at the Rensselaer County Courthouse to examine the historical dispute over the true authorship of this magical holiday poem that opens with “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Noted Troy attorneys E. Stewart Jones Jr., Jack Casey and daughter Molly Casey squared off for fun, representing pro bono the two claims by Clement C. Moore and Henry Livingston Jr.

A crowd of nearly 500 spectators filled the court gallery, leaving many standing after the 300 seats were quickly occupied. Nearly a dozen professional journalists attended, including Joanne Kauffman of the Wall Street Journal. But, alas our jury was unable to reach a verdict. Therefore, after many impassioned requests, we will retry the case this year at 2 p.m. during the Victorian Stroll.

NEEDS FOR THIS YEAR:

In order to accommodate the hundreds we anticipate will show for this year’s re-trial, we would like to provide a live closed circuit broadcast of the proceedings in the courthouse rotunda. This live on-site broadcast will accommodate several hundred additional spectators outside the packed ceremonial courtroom.We have secured a professional broadcast crew to set up cameras, an editing console and a screen.  The production crew will also produce a high-quality recorded version of the “trial” that we will post on the Internet freely as soon as it can be edited.

However, this special broadcast and recording will cost $5,500 for the most basic package. And rules of the court prohibit charging admission. Therefore, as with last year, we are entirely dependent upon corporate sponsors and private donors to cover our expenses to once again stage this wildly successful event. 

For photos, videos and information about last year's trial, visit: http://ChristmasTrial.com

Attorney E. Stewart Jones, Jr. sits with Chris Post, a descendant of Clement Clarke Moore. (Photo by Mark Fallon)
Attorney E. Stewart Jones, Jr. sits with Chris Post, a descendant of Clement Clarke Moore. (Photo by Mark Fallon)
Attorneys Jack Casey and Molly Casey sit with their party, Diane Dorring, a distant relative of Major Henry Livingston Jr. Retired Judge John T. Casey left. (Photo by Mark Fallon).
Attorneys Jack Casey and Molly Casey sit with their party, Diane Dorring, a distant relative of Major Henry Livingston Jr. Retired Judge John T. Casey left. (Photo by Mark Fallon).
Gregg Stacy from Brown’s Brewing Co. holds signs in support of the Livingston authorship claim.  (Photo by Carol Reid.)
Gregg Stacy from Brown’s Brewing Co. holds signs in support of the Livingston authorship claim. (Photo by Carol Reid.)
Retired New York State Supreme Court Justice Bernard “Bud” Malone presides over the case.  (Photo by Tonya Scanlon Massey.)
Retired New York State Supreme Court Justice Bernard “Bud” Malone presides over the case. (Photo by Tonya Scanlon Massey.)
Rensselaer County Historian Kathryn Sheehan testifies on the stand. (Photo by Tonya Scanlon Massey.)
Rensselaer County Historian Kathryn Sheehan testifies on the stand. (Photo by Tonya Scanlon Massey.)
I would like to call back from the dead the ghost of Henry Livingston,” Mr. Casey announced. (Photo by Tonya Scanlon Massey.)
I would like to call back from the dead the ghost of Henry Livingston,” Mr. Casey announced. (Photo by Tonya Scanlon Massey.)
(Photo collage by Tim Reidy.)
(Photo collage by Tim Reidy.)
Gangster Jack “Legs” Diamond returns to the court where he was famously tried and successfully defended by the great-grandfather of Attorney E. Stewart Jones, Jr. (Photo by Tonya Scanlon Massey.)
Gangster Jack “Legs” Diamond returns to the court where he was famously tried and successfully defended by the great-grandfather of Attorney E. Stewart Jones, Jr. (Photo by Tonya Scanlon Massey.)
Even gangster Jack “Legs” Diamond gets into the holiday spirit by showering the courtroom with chocolate gold coins. (Photo by Tonya Scanlon Massey.)
Even gangster Jack “Legs” Diamond gets into the holiday spirit by showering the courtroom with chocolate gold coins. (Photo by Tonya Scanlon Massey.)
Sax-O-Claus plays while the jury deliberates. (Photo by Tonya Scanlon Massey.)
Sax-O-Claus plays while the jury deliberates. (Photo by Tonya Scanlon Massey.)
Jury Foreman Don Rittner delivers the verdict. (Photo by Mark Fallon.)
Jury Foreman Don Rittner delivers the verdict. (Photo by Mark Fallon.)
Attorney E. Stewart Jones Jr. speaks to the media. (Photo by Mark Fallon.)
Attorney E. Stewart Jones Jr. speaks to the media. (Photo by Mark Fallon.)
Attorney Jack Casey speaks to the media. (Photo by Mark Fallon.)
Attorney Jack Casey speaks to the media. (Photo by Mark Fallon.)
Attorney Molly Casey speaks with reporter Jimmy Jimmy Vielkind of Capital New York (Politico) post trial. (Photo by Mark Fallon.)
Attorney Molly Casey speaks with reporter Jimmy Jimmy Vielkind of Capital New York (Politico) post trial. (Photo by Mark Fallon.)
Event creator Duncan Crary wishes Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night. (Screenshot, WNYT Ch. 13)
Event creator Duncan Crary wishes Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night. (Screenshot, WNYT Ch. 13)

To watch a wonderful news video by WNYT Ch 13 covering last year's trial, click on the video link below:

Risks and challenges

The mock trial will go on no matter what. We have already secured our basic funding from repeat sponsor Gramercy Communications and new sponsor Sequence Development. However, in order to put on the best show possible and to accommodate the large crowd expected this year, we must receive your support to hire a broadcast production crew for the live closed circuit broadcast and the online video to be published and shared afterwards. The more money we receive in donations, the better the production will be and the more people will share in this heart-felt, historic event.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 5 or more About US$ 5

    You will be thanked by name in the end credits of the online video of this trial (if you wish to be).

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    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    Receive a digital copy of the official court transcript from the trial, created by a real court stenographer. Plus you will be thanked by name in the end credits of the online video of this trial (if you wish to be).

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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    Receive a screen printed "Trial Before Christmas" poster featuring original artwork by Troy, NY artist Ben Karis-Nix, produced by Troy Cloth and Paper

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Receive a screen printed "Trial Before Christmas" poster featuring original artwork by Troy, NY artist Ben Karis-Nix, produced by Troy Cloth and Paper. Be credited by name in the official "Jury Summons" (program).

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Receive a screen printed "Trial Before Christmas" poster featuring original artwork by Troy, NY artist Ben Karis-Nix, produced by Troy Cloth and Paper. Be credited by name or business logo in the official "Jury Summons" (program).

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Funding period

- (16 days)