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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Courts - "Kentucky students' court operates just like real thing"

From a story by Chris Otts in the March 30th Louisville Courier Journal:

Melissa Moore is not a lawyer.

But the Eastern High School junior sure looked and acted the part in a packed courtroom on the 10th floor of the Jefferson County Judicial Center yesterday.

"The opposing counsel is offering evidence that is improper pursuant to rule 608-B," Melissa told Boyd Circuit Judge Marc Rosen during a "trial" that lasted more than two hours. It was the final round of the annual Kentucky High School Mock Trial Tournament.

Melissa joined Eastern seniors Ashley Gei and Candace McLaurine in acting as prosecutors, while Madison Central High School provided the defense in a fictitious trial involving a high school student who was caught dealing marijuana by an undercover police officer.

The jury was a group of lawyers and judges from around the state, including Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Janet Stumbo.

Madison Central won and will represent Kentucky in the national mock trial competition in Atlanta this May. * * *

About 400 students participated, and 30 courtrooms were used during the three-day competition, said Patrick Yewell, an official with the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts, which runs the state program.

Students not only play the lawyers in the trials, but they portray the witnesses as well. When they invoked procedural rules, they were not reading from scripts.

Ashley said the Eastern team members had studied the case for about seven months in three-hour practices, five days a week. "I've wanted to be a lawyer since I was in seventh grade," Melissa said.

Eastern High principal Jim Sexton, who was in the courtroom yesterday to cheer on the team, said mock trial is as big a deal as basketball to the Middletown school. The team grew out of a popular Justice and Law elective course for juniors and seniors, he said.

Here is the website of the National High School Mock Trial Competition. South Bend's John Adams High School has placed in the top ten in recent years.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 31, 2009 08:38 AM
Posted to Courts in general