Members of the Mock Trial Club competed against 20 high school teams from across the county in the district competition Friday, Jan. 31. Students squared off against each other in real courtrooms at the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court just north of campus in downtown Dayton.
The club’s nine members were split into two teams -- Plaintiff and Defense -- to argue both sides of a case in a simulated trial about a fictional school district and its students’ First and Fourth Amendment rights. (Watch video below to learn more.)
Vying for six spots in the regional competition, the Eagles’ Plaintiff team went against Centerville and the Defense team was matched up with Sidney. Although neither team advanced, junior Ashley Huffman (arguing for the defense) won an award for best attorney while junior Margot Duffy and sophomore Allison Huffman tied for best witness.
“Mock Trial gives you great insight into the legal system and the way the court works. It does involve a lot of work and a time commitment, but it is really beneficial and a lot of fun,” Ashley said. The club began practicing in late fall, spending two hours on Saturday and Wednesday mornings reviewing case files, preparing speeches and crafting exam questions.
“Even if you are not interested in law, Mock Trial is a great way to improve your public speaking skills and research skills,” she said. “The club is also good for students who want to be involved with acting or drama.”
Mock Trial offers members the opportunity to perform, compete, and understand the dynamics of a normal court case in a courtroom. Students play roles of attorneys and witnesses in order to compete against another team, who will argue for a certain stance.
Ohio’s Mock Trial program is celebrating 30 years in 2014. CJ’s club was reintroduced this fall as an offering under the supervision of Mr. Tony Ricciuto, who teaches Honors World Cultures and AP European History. The club’s successful resurgence is due in part to his experience as well as the opportunity for students to work with volunteers who are also legal professionals.
Many members of the CJ community pitched in to help the team prepare. Adult volunteers included the Honorable James Brogan, a 1957 alumnus; legal advisors Chris Herman and Chris Hollon of Faruki, Ireland & Cox PLL (recommended by Jeffrey Cox, chair of the Board of Trustees and parent of CJ graduates); and Ashley and Allison’s mom, attorney Kathryn Huffman.
All students are encouraged to give Mock Trial a try next school year.