Local Students Back in Court, Arguing the Eighth Amendment in Mock Trial Competition
COLUMBUS (February 8, 2024) - Nearly 800 Ohio high school students are back in court, bringing them one step closer to representing Ohio at the National High School Mock Trial Competition in May. Out of the 237 teams that participated in the District Competition in January, 91 teams will now advance to the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education’s (OCLRE) 41st Annual Ohio Mock Trial Regional Competition, which will take place in courtrooms across the state 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. Each team competes in two trials against opposing teams. At the Regional Competition, teams must win both trials to advance to the State 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 Regional Competition is hosted in 11 counties throughout Ohio. The Ohio Center for Law-Related Education’s website has a complete list of teams participating in the Regional Competition on February 16, along with the location of each competition site. The website will be updated after the competition with a list of teams that qualify for the State Competition.
The 2024 State Competition will take place over three days, beginning on March 7 and ending with the State Championship held at the Supreme Court of Ohio on March 9. The 2024 state champion team will represent Ohio at the National High School Mock Trial Competition on May 2-5 in Wilmington, DE, hosted by the Delaware Law-Related Education Center.
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.