Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : June 2005

Previous | Next

MSBA Mock Trial Competition Attracts Thousands
Students, teachers and lawyers engage in lively courtroom drama;
Richard Montgomery High School is champion

By Janet Stidman Eveleth

This year, thousands of Maryland high school students, teachers, attorneys and judges engaged in lively courtroom drama in all parts of the state, participating in the Maryland State Bar Association’s 2005 Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition. For the last 22 years, MSBA’s Citizenship Law-Related Education Program (CLREP) has presented the mock trial competition as a public education program to teach young people about the law and enhance their understanding of our legal system. Through this entertaining, interactive and educational contest, high school students learn firsthand about our rule of law, trial procedures and the role of attorneys and judges.

Last fall, 138 teams of high school students representing every circuit in the state began preparing for MSBA’s 2005 Mock Trial Competition with their respective teacher and volunteer lawyer coaches. The student teams enact a mock trial while a volunteer judge deliberates. The competitions begin in each county, advance to regional matches and culminate with the state championship. Overall, 600+ enactments of the mock trial are convened during the competition.

The trials always focus on a contemporary high school issue that is germane to the students’ lives. This year’s mock trial case involved the timely issue of new drivers with multiple passengers in the car. The case brings to light the number of fatal accidents in which new drivers are involved, giving young people insight into the many dangers. A number of legislative proposals on this subject were considered during the 2005 legislative session.

This year’s mock trial case sent a poignant message to high school students, reinforcing the need to drive responsibly. A young new driver leaves a party and gives his friends a ride home. As they are going down the highway, one of the passengers wants to know how fast the SUV will go, and the driver shows him. As he races down the highway, the driver turns around to look at his friend in the back seat, drifts into oncoming traffic and collides head-on into a truck. The truck driver and two of his passengers are killed, and the driver of the SUV is charged with three counts of vehicular manslaughter.

“MSBA’s mock trial competition gives young people the opportunity to come into a real courtroom and learn about the law and our legal system while exploring a topic that can save lives,” states CLREP Director Ellery “Rick” Miller.

This public education program teaches young people 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.

On April 29, the two finalists – the Richard Montgomery High School in Montgomery County and the Owings Mills High School in Baltimore County – engaged in the final mock trial in the Court of Appeals of Maryland, the Honorable Lynne Battaglia, Court of Appeals of Maryland, presiding. While Richard Montgomery High School was declared the 2005 champion of the MSBA Mock Trial championship, every student who participated came away a winner.

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 of 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.

The Mock Trial program offers high school students a valuable insight into the workings of our justice system so that they can 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 32,000 young people have emerged from this competition as well-informed citizens who are more knowledgeable about our legal system.

CLREP is celebrating its 30th anniversary throughout the year 2005. MSBA’s educational arm presents a number of opportunities for Maryland attorneys and judges to volunteer in public education programs in state schools. It also sponsors Law Links, peer mediation, school violence prevention and a wealth of publications and materials. MSBA members interested in volunteering for any law-related program may contact CLREP at (410) 706-5360 or by visiting www.clrep.org.

Previous previous

next Next

Publications : Bar Bulletin: June, 2005

Back to top