The 37th Annual Mock Trial District Competition rests its case your Honor.
Friday, students from across the state strolled into courtrooms to be presided over by the honorable Ohio judges. In Scioto county, 11 teams participated in the district trials.
Teams represented eight local school districts in a First Amendment case. The 2020 Mock Trial debated a student’s right to free speech vs their educational institution. An organized rally was held as the inciting incident.
The case was to exemplify the difference between on and off-campus speech. The plaintiff, Rory Maldonado was suing his former high school, and its principal.
Maldonado, a fictitious first-year college student, was as he feels, ‘unlawfully’ suspended from senior events and banned from walking in graduation.
A pro-gun rally was held and organized on Maldonado’s behest. The student felt wronged as the rally was not held on school property.
In Scioto County, both the Court of Common Pleas and Municipal Court held hearings on the fictional case. Local teachers were in attendance with their teams.
Family and friends were in the courtrooms and commented on how healthy and constructive the Mock Trials were.
In South Webster v. Valley, three persons presided over the Mock Trial. Attorneys Rachel Daehler and Matthew Wiggin saw to awarding points. Judge Steven Mowery, orchestrated the tension and importance of a true trial.
Teams of students took their turns presenting opening arguments, questioning and crossing witnesses. The system is set up just like a real trial, objections included.
The students were allowed to object, and they would be instructed to state on what grounds and prove to Mowery why the objection should be sustained. Often times they battle of proof would last multiple minutes.
The Mock Trial held by the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education (OCLRE), is a way to lightly place the responsibilities of the courtroom, onto potential lawyers. Even the research behind the scenes is required.
“It’s paramount to discover what information is valid, and what is extra distractions,” said one instructor. Presenting the right evidence and asking the right questions are vital to the mock trial system, it’s not just memorization of a script. Each team’s procedure is different.
The ‘OCLRE’ Mock Trial is one of the largest mock competitions in the nation. Notre Dame, Portsmouth, Portsmouth West, River Valley, South Webster, Ironton St. Joseph, Valley and Wheelersburg High school represented the county.
From the district competition, winners would move on to the regional competition in February.
The event is sponsored locally by American Legion James Dickey Post 23, Velma Feagans, Portsmouth Bar Association, Portsmouth Rotary Club, Southern Ohio Medical Center, the Scioto Foundation and the Honorable Howard H. Harcha, III; and coordinated by Sharee Price, of the South Central Ohio Educational Service Center, and Judge Howard H. Harcha, III For more information visit the South Central Ohio ESC online at www.scoesc.org
Reach Bailey Watts (740) 353-3101 Ext 1931
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