With so many students choosing law as the educational path they wish to take once they get to college, why not get started even sooner in high school? For students interested in pursuing a career in law, mock trial has always been a viable option to gain valuable courtroom experience. For the first time in the school’s history, Old Rochester Regional High School will field their first mock trial team.
“We have a lot of students who are interested in going into careers in criminal justice and law,” said ORR Law and Legal Teacher and Mock Trial Advisor Jeff White. “I usually have about 60 students who are interested in those careers. I think it’s great because it gives them great court room experience.”
Each year, the Massachuetts Bar Association (MBA) sponsors the Mock Trial program throughout the state. The MBA designs several cases to distribute to each of the schools participating in the program. Once the schools receive their case packets, they begin preparing for their trials. The trials alternate back and forth between civil and criminal each year.
Each team is divided in half to represent both the prosecution and defense. Students examine evidence, affidavits, voice reports, diaries and clinical reports. From there, they create their arguments and cross-examinations. This year, the ORR Mock Trial Team will travel to the Fall River District Court on January 22 to participate in their first competition.
“There are no juries in these trials, however, there is a Massachusetts Bar Association Lawyer who will role play the judge,” said Mike Linane, Co-Advisor of the Mock Trial Team. “He is the one who will decide who wins the case.”
The judge will evaluate each of the students’ performances and will give them points based on the strength of their arguments.
While the Mock Trial Team is new to ORR, Linane has plenty of experience. Prior to coming to ORR, he helped to coordinate the team at Melrose High School. Now, he is guiding the 15 students at ORR through their first Mock Trial experience.
“I would like to see this program grow,” said Linane. “This is a cool program where up to 100 kids can participate. There’s no real limit. We welcome students to come and try it out.”
For more information on the Mock Trial team, or to make a donation to help support travel costs, contact White or Linane at the high school.
By Katy Fitzpatrick