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03/07/2017

Students’ Legal Battle to End at the Ohio Statehouse

COLUMBUS (Mar. 7, 2017) - Beginning Thurs., March 9, approximately 300 high school students representing 24 schools from across Ohio will arrive in Columbus to vie for the title of state champion of the 34th Annual Ohio Mock Trial Competition.

In the 2017 Ohio Mock Trial case, Pat Justice v. CAT News et al., students will consider a case of defamation of a public official by a news station. In the fictitious case, Governor Pat Justice speaks at a school assembly. Afterward, he meets with the school principal, and an argument ensues. Governor Justice leaves abruptly, and the principal is found dead from a brain aneurysm. A student who overheard the argument reports to a local news outlet that Governor Justice killed the principal. While the student’s account is quickly disproven, the story goes viral. The governor loses a bid for re-election and files civil suit against the news station, alleging defamation. 

Mock trial teams from the following high schools have advanced from district and regional competitions to compete at the state level: Archbishop Hoban (Summit County), Bishop Watterson High School (Franklin County), Columbus School for Girls (Franklin County), Danville School District (Knox County), Dayton Early College Academy (Montgomery County), Dublin Jerome High School (Franklin County), Hathaway Brown High School (Cuyahoga County), Indian Hills High School (Hamilton County), Kings High School (Warren County), Lake High School Uniontown (Stark County), Lake Ridge Academy (Lorain County), Notre Dame Cathedral Latin High School (Geauga County), Olivia Davidson Washington (Athens County; home-school team), Orange High School (Cuyahoga County), Perry High School (Stark County), Portsmouth High School (Scioto County), Reading Community High School (Hamilton County), Springfield High School (Clark County), St. Vincent St. Mary High School (Summit County), St. Xavier High School (Hamilton County), Strongsville High School (Cuyahoga County), Summit Country Day (Hamilton County), Sycamore High School (Hamilton County), Sylvania Southview High School (Lucas County), Talawanda High School (Butler County), Thomas Worthington High School (Franklin County), and Westerville North High School (Franklin County). 

Ohio Mock Trial is a program of the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education (OCLRE) and is Ohio’s largest high school academic competition. More than 3,500 students participate each year, and approximately 1,000 legal professionals volunteer to serve as judges, competition coordinators and team advisors. Each year, OCLRE writes an original case based on a relevant constitutional issue. Students must prepare arguments for both plaintiff and defense. Mock Trial is designed to educate students about the rights and responsibilities of citizens. Students also develop critical thinking, reading, writing, public speaking and listening skills. 

The three-day state competition will culminate with a final round, to be held at the Statehouse on Sat., March 11. The 2017 State Champion will represent Ohio at the National High School Mock Trial Championship in Hartford, Connecticut May 11-13. 

The Ohio Center for Law-Related Education (OCLRE) is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization whose goal is to improve society by developing citizens empowered with an understanding of our democratic system. The Supreme Court of Ohio, Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Ohio State Bar Association, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation sponsor the Center.  The Ohio Mock Trial program is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Ohio State Bar Foundation. For more information about OCLRE, please call (877) 485-3510 or visit www.oclre.org

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