Mock Trial Exercise: High School Students Learn about the Courts
By Jackie Runion - The Marietta Times
"Even if I don't end up going into the legal field some day, it's great background to have, and it's really a fun environment," said Warren High School junior Nicholas Fish, who played the role of a defense attorney Friday.
This year, two teams from Federal Hocking High School and two teams from Warren High School went head to head. Warren High School Team White, consisting of Lara Eksi, William Christian, Ethan Walker, Carly Haffner, Ally Johnson, Nick Fish, Morgan Marshall, Cameron Cantley and Maggie McCutcheon, will advance to regional competition, where they will have the chance to compete at the state level in March.
At a glance
Ohio Mock Trial district competitions
Held Friday in Washington County Common Pleas Court.
Competing were two teams from Warren High School and two teams from Federal Hocking High School.
The winning team was Warren White: Lara Eksi, William Christian, Ethan Walker, Carly Haffner, Ally Johnson, Nick Fish, Morgan Marshall, Cameron Cantley and Maggie McCutcheon.
Warren White will advance to regional competition.
Regional competitions: Feb. 19.
State competitions: March 10-12 at the Ohio Statehouse.
The Ohio Center for Law-Related Education puts on the competition each year for participating Ohio high schools and middle schools. The mission of the program is to help students learn firsthand skills about the law, court procedures and the judicial system along with an original case that students prepare to argue from both sides.
"As the defense, we have to make the rebuttal up on the fly," said Warren High School junior Ally Johnson. "We actually have always had a class at Warren but it's being eliminated, so we'll continue to meet as a group after school."
Students presented the case to area attorneys, like defense attorney John Halliday and Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Harrison Crumrine, along with Common Pleas Judge Ed Lane and Judge Mark Kerenyi.
"Our coach actually assigns us roles based on what we are best at," said Federal Hocking sophomore Mikayla Bradford, who portrayed the role of a witness. "From this, I've learned how to put up a good argument and how to defend myself."
This year's case was about AJ Bryant, a 17-year-old from the fictitious town of Buckeye in the state of Harmony. Bryant was attending a Renaissance fair and was toting a toy bow and arrow when he went into a local convenience store and accidentally hit a customer with a foam arrow.
The store owner later calls police, and when Officer Green arrives on the scene, she shoots Bryant multiple times. The officer is being charged with felonious assault in the case.
"We've been practicing this for months," said Lisa Snyder, a senior from Federal Hocking who was portraying a prosecutor. "It's pretty intimidating, because we're presenting this in front of real lawyers."
The case information is released to student groups about three months before district competition. Most schools rehearse for mock trials as an extra-curricular activity.
"It really requires a lot of memorizing facts," said Federal Hocking freshman Asia McKenzie, who portrayed a witness. "But we're really doing well."