High School Students Head to Court, Tackle Eighth Amendment Rights in Mock Trial Competition
COLUMBUS (January 18, 2024) - Over 2,000 Ohio high school students will take their place in courtrooms across the state for the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education’s (OCLRE) 41st Annual Ohio Mock Trial Competition on Friday, January 26. Students will compete for a chance to move on to the regional competition, which will take place on Friday, February 16.
The 2024 Ohio Mock Trial case examines the history and application of the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment. Specifically, the case looks at excessive fines in the context of property forfeiture resulting from a crime. The defendant, Ash Espinosa, has pled guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering. The State is now looking to recover the loss of the conspiracy by seizing Espinosa’s restored 1967 Chevrolet Camaro. However, defendant Espinosa asserts that the State has seized more property and funds than what Espinosa owes and that, even if the Court determines that Espinosa is responsible for the remaining loss, seizure of the Camaro would violate Espinosa’s Eighth Amendment right against excessive fines.
According to Program Coordinator Danielle Wilmot, the 2024 Mock Trial case gives students the opportunity to study a lesser-known part of the Constitution. “The Eighth Amendment is most often associated with its prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment,” Wilmot said, “but this case focuses on how the Excessive Fines Clause applies to real world situations. In their preparation for competition, students have been grappling with some of the same questions courts throughout the country are faced with.”
Each Ohio Mock Trial team consists of five to eleven students who assume the roles of attorneys and witnesses to present both sides of an original, unscripted case based on an important constitutional issue. At the district and regional levels of competition, each team competes in two trials against opposing teams. Teams must win both trials, or the majority of their judges’ ballots, to advance to the next level of competition. More than 1,000 legal professionals serve as volunteer judges, competition coordinators, and team advisors. Ohio Mock Trial is Ohio’s largest high school academic competition and among the largest high school mock trial programs in the nation.
The Ohio Mock Trial District Competition is hosted in 22 counties throughout Ohio. OCLRE’s website has a complete list of teams participating in the competition on January 26, along with the location of each competition site. The website will be updated after the competition with a list of teams qualifying for the regional competition.
OCLRE is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to improve society by developing citizens empowered with an understanding of our democratic system. OCLRE is sponsored by the Supreme Court of Ohio, Ohio Attorney General, Ohio State Bar Association and the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation. The Ohio Mock Trial program is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Ohio State Bar Foundation. For more information about OCLRE and its programs, visit www.oclre.org.