On December 18th, Valerie and Meghan’s team of aspiring legal minds from Rogers Herr Middle school competed in the Justice Iredell Middle School Mock Trial Regional Tournament at the Durham County courthouse.
The event was sponsored by the North Carolina Bar Association and was a chance for middle school students to learn firsthand about the fundamentals of the justice system and procedure of the courtroom. The teams were given a common fact pattern to study and ultimately present the case in a real courtroom from the side of both the prosecution and defense. This year, the teams were assigned a fictitious criminal case involving a teen texting and driving on her return from an off campus lunch break that lead to alleged involuntary manslaughter of one of the passengers. The prompt was an involved fact pattern with two expert witnesses to reconstruct the accident and assign liability, multiple witnesses to the accident, and exhibits to enter into evidence.
The students competed for roles of witnesses, attorneys, and courtroom personnel for several months prior to the competition. In addition to studying their case, the students worked hard to learn skills such as common objections used in trials, effective cross- examination, and how to qualify an expert witness. The “judge and jury” didn’t determine whether the defendant was found guilty but instead scored the teams based on their opening and closing statements, use of direct and cross- examination, the performance of their witnesses, and the team’s overall performance.
All in all, everyone had fun and the students were amongst the most spirited in the competition. Only time will tell whether Valerie and Meghan’s young legal scholars have made the first move in their legal careers.