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Elyria Court to Host Ohio Mock Trial Event

ELYRIA — Hundreds of students all over the state will put their critical thinking skills to the test Friday as they participate in the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education’s 34th annual Ohio Mock Trial Competition.

Ohio’s is the second-largest mock trial program in the country. Twenty-seven counties will hold district competitions this year, including Cuyahoga, Lorain, Medina, Richland, Stark and Summit counties. More than 1,000 legal professionals have been recruited to help run these competitions, which simulate a real trial.

Students will handle a fictitious case involving the defamation of a public official by a media outlet. Imaginary Gov. Pat Justice is accused by a student of killing the school principal, who actually has a brain aneurysm. The student then reports it to a local news station that allows the false story to go viral. As a result, the governor fails to be re-elected and files a civil suit against the news station.

Students from Lake Ridge Academy, Open Door Christian School and Solon High School will meet in Elyria Municipal Court, which is holding its 15th competition, set to begin at 1. The 60 to 75 participants will assume the roles of witnesses and attorneys. All six teams will participate in two trials.

Each school runs its program differently, Judge Gary C. Bennett said. At Lake Ridge, for example, students sign up for a class in which they obtain credit. Other schools have extracurricular programs and may even hold tryouts.

Lake Ridge won the state competition in 2008 and has had teams perform exceptionally ever since.

“The competition is very stiff, partly because Lake Ridge is in it,” Bennett said. “Teams have done very well in the past. Some start preparing right after the school year begins, so it’s a huge commitment.”

The winner of the district competition will advance to the regional competition to take place Feb. 10. Regional winners will compete March 9 to 11 at the state competition in Columbus.

The National High School Mock Trial championship will take place May 11 to 13 in Hartford, Conn.\

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