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Mock Trial Exercise: High School Students Learn about the Courts

By Jackie Runion - The Marietta Times

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 It was a classic case of whether a law enforcement officer was justified in firing a weapon at a civilian, and in this case, that civilian was only armed with a multi-colored bow and arrow. The 2016 Ohio Mock Trials were in full swing Friday in Washington County Common Pleas Court, where high school students competed at the district level.
     Warren High School's Team White will advance to Ohio regional competition after Friday's district-level competition, held each year with the participation of local attorneys and judges to test students' savvy and knowledge of the legal process.

     "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.

Fact Box

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."

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