Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin

June, 2004

1,800+ MARYLAND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS PARTICIPATE IN MSBA'S MOCK TRIAL COMPETITION

~Largest Turnout in Program's History as Park School Wins Competition~
By Janet Stidman Eveleth

Last fall, a record 142 teams of high school students, representing every circuit in the state, began preparing for MSBA’s 2004 Mock Trial Competition, along with their respective volunteer attorney and teacher coaches. On April 30, the two finalists, the Park School in Baltimore County and Richard Montgomery High School in Montgomery County, engaged in the final mock trial in the Court of Appeals of Maryland, the Honorable Robert M. Bell, Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals of Maryland, presiding. Park School won the 2004 MSBA Mock Trial championship, but every student who participated was a winner.

Every year, this entertaining and educational program attracts thousands of Maryland high school students, teachers, attorneys and judges, and this year’s welcomed the largest turnout yet in the competition’s 21-year history. Courtroom drama unfolds as teams of students, coached by teachers and volunteer lawyers, enact a mock trial while a volunteer judge deliberates. These competitions begin in each county, advance to regional matches and culminate with the state championship. This popular MSBA program teaches young people about the law and enhances their understanding of our legal system.

Through MSBA’s interactive and educational contest, high school students learn firsthand about the rule of law, trial procedures and the role of attorneys and judges. They gain insight into the workings of our justice system and better understand its function in society. They see the law in action and develop a more constructive attitude about our country’s legal system. To date, over 30,000 young people have emerged from this competition as well-informed citizens who are more knowledgeable about our legal system.

Over the course of the competition, there were 600+ enactments of this year’s mock trial, which involved a hazing incident. Hazing is a serious concern in today’s high school environment. In this instance, a hazing incident occurred during a senior get-together for juniors, escalated into a melee and led to criminal arrests. The trials always involve contemporary high school concerns so the issues are germane to the students’ lives.

MSBA’s Citizenship Law-Related Education Program (CLREP) has presented this educational legal contest since its inception in 1983. Working with students, teachers, volunteer attorney coaches and judges, CLREP maps out the competition, forms school teams, selects and analyzes a case and works with participants to master team strategy. Most teams devote an average 100+ hours of preparation and competition time to the mock trial program, although the time commitment does go as high as 150 hours for some teams.

MSBA sponsors the mock trial competition as a public education program. It enables young people to learn about the law, our court system and the legal system in a fun and entertaining way. The volunteer attorneys and judges enjoy the competition, too, and find it quite rewarding. They interact with students in a creative and educational environment and get caught up in the excitement along with the students.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: June, 2004

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