The recent book by Roger McDaniel, “Dying for Joe McCarthy's Sins: The Suicide of Wyoming Senator Lester Hunt,” explores the circumstances surrounding Hunt's death, specifically the role that Senator Joe McCarthy played in the tragedy.
The 50's were perilous times for U.S. citizens. The Cold War was on and the focus was on Russians, espionage, nuclear war, communists and homosexuals. Dirty politics seemed the norm.
Thursday night in the Presentation Hall of Sheridan College, the Sheridan County Museum held a mock trial that charged Joe McCarthy with aggravated blackmail. In a many-sided political witch hunt, McCarthy and his cronies went after Wyoming Senator Lester Hunt, which ultimately ended with his suicide in 1954.
McDaniel said there were two things he wanted people to learn through the mock trial.
Sheridan High School Government students made up the jury. For Maya Gilmore, the mock trial gave her a new respect for jurors.
The mock trial was a fundraiser for the Sheridan County Museum. Community members, including local attorneys Hardy Tate and Kim Cannon made up the cast. Tate, a local criminal defense attorney said lessons need to be learned from the past.
Although the script was written, it wasn't always followed. Both attorneys added a lot of extemporaneous dynamics, especially during closing arguments. Kim Cannon played the part of the government's prosecuting attorney.
Other mock trials were held in Cheyenne, Rock Springs, and Lander. McCarthy was found guilty in Cheyenne and not guilty in the other two communities. Next month, the mock trial will be held in Washington D.C. Copies of McDaniel's book are available at the museum.