JACKSON TWP. One of the three teams from Jackson Local High School Mock Trial program has moved onto regional competitions on Feb. 15 at the Summit County Court House. The Purple Team made it through the district round on Jan. 18 to advance. The other two teams were the White Team and the Gold Team.
The Purple Team earned additional awards at the district competition including Outstanding Attorneys won by members Rana Yu and Matthew Ripple and Outstanding Witnesses won by Grace Sykes and Rachel Slesnick.
Should Team Purple win at the regional competitions, it will advance to state competitions March 16-18 in Columbus. Winners at that level will advance to the nationals in Atlanta, Ga., in mid-May.
“One of our teams (Team White) this year had all freshman members and were new to high school mock trial,” said Matt Marlett, team advisor and world history teacher at Jackson High School. “The members on the Purple Team had more experience and they are the team that advanced to regionals.”
“We had the most students this year participate in mock trial with 20 kids. The mock trial program at the middle school has helped recruit kids for the high school teams. Those students are coming in with more experience and familiarity of mock trial.”
There will be six students on the Purple Team advancing. Student teams from all the districts competing in Ohio argue the same case through district, regional and state competitions. They receive a new case if they go onto nationals.
Teachers and volunteer legal advisors guide the Ohio Mock Trial Competition. Students participate in unscripted, original simulated trials written by attorneys. Team members argue both sides of the case in real courtrooms.
According to the Ohio Center for Law Related Education’s website, more than 3,000 high school students compete in the annual Ohio Mock Trial along with 1,000 teachers and legal professionals who volunteer their time to the program. It’s the largest non-athletic competition in Ohio and among the largest in the nation.
This year’s case focuses on the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures as it applies to technology. A fictional defendant, Quinn Woolf, is charged with aggravated theft and telecommunications fraud for allegedly using a private, alpha-numeric code to steal $120 million from the state pension fund.
The catch is that the state used an aerial drone to obtain images of the defendant in Woolf’s backyard. Student attorneys cross examine student played witnesses for the case in the district, regional and state competitions.
Marlett said that Jackson has been competing in mock trial for at least 15 years and the furthest a Jackson team has advanced was coming in fourth place at a state competition.
“It’s important for the kids to have the opportunity to compete for a number of reasons. We start practicing in August and meet twice a week. It really gives the students a chance to see what being an attorney is like. We don’t have a legal studies program here, so this is a good way for our students to see what’s like to be in a courtroom trial,” Marlett said.
He added that it’s also a chance to showcase the different talents of the kids such as those who like the acting component and play the witnesses. Marlett believes his team has a good chance to advance to state this year.
“The Purple Team has a lot of kids who competed last year. And, because of that experience, we think we have a good chance at going onto state. With all of the new kids coming into the the program this year, I’m excited about the direction of the program and the growth of the program and I hope we continue to grow in the future,” Marlett said.