ELYRIA -- Students from several area intermediate and middle schools took a break from their classrooms on Friday, and instead, found themselves inside courtrooms of the Lorain County Justice Center.
The ESC of Lorain County hosted their annual Gifted Mock Trial Day - a day set aside where students have the opportunity to participate firsthand in mock court cases, beginning with an opening argument, proceeding through witness testimony and questioning, and concluding with the jury’s verdict. Students served as attorneys, lawyers, key witnesses, bailiffs, jury members and in some cases, the defendant on trial.
“One of the highlights of the Gifted Mock Trial is that actual judges, magistrates, and attorneys from the community preside over the ‘trials,’” ESC of Lorain County Gifted Supervisor Cathy Fischer said. “Not only do they act as judges, but also as instructors, explaining all aspects of the trials.”
The cases used in the Gifted Mock Trial are taken from actual past court cases. For example, Cavanaugh v. Cup of Joe, is based upon the famous McDonald's hot coffee trial.
“All information in the affidavits are taken from actual events, which makes cases even more authentic to students. Teachers and students are provided with the opportunity to select the court case(s) and determine which side they wish to present, defense or prosecution,” Fischer said.
The Gifted Mock Trial has been an integral part of the ESCLC’s gifted programming for more than 15 years.
Each year it is interesting to hear what students have to say at the end of their experience:
“Having participated in Mock Trial, I have learned how a court has multiple ways to find if someone is guilty,” JC (a student) said.
“Being involved in the mock trial event I have learned how the court handles different types of trials and how to assess these situations,” MS (a student) said.
“Mock Trial was very enjoyable. Watching people find little holes in cases and pointing them out was fun. Overall it was fun and tense going through the courthouse and being in the room with all the seats - it felt very professional! Everything was organized very well, and this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m glad I went!” RD (a student) said.
“Many of the students indicated that they learned a lot, not only about courtroom protocols, but also about the extensive amount of preparation and planning necessary within a trial, ” Fischer said. “Some have even entered into legal professions as a result of exposure to this program, which is an exciting bonus!”
According to ESC of Lorain County Gifted Administrative Assistant Tracy Butchko, the Gifted Mock Trial provides students with a comprehensive educational experience.
“This program addresses the Language Arts and Social Studies State Standards, the higher levels of thinking and many of the gifted processes of critical thinking, creative thinking and communication skills,” Butchko said.