Delaware News

Faux trials give students experience in courtroom

Hayes students among those taking part in mock-trial event Friday


Students from Delaware County schools, including Delaware Hayes High School, will participate in the 2014 Ohio High School Mock Trial Competition this week.

The competition is set from 9:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, at the Hayes building, 140 N. Sandusky St.

Delaware Municipal Court Judge David Gormley said more than 3,500 Ohio students participate every year in the event, put on by state lawyers and judges.

In Delaware County, there will be five student mock trials. Students will be given written materials enabling them to portray witnesses and lawyers in a fictional case created by local attorneys.

The panel of 30 attorneys endeavored to make the case relevant to students.

"The fictional story this year is about a high school stadium who is selling the naming rights to a company, which causes students to start protesting," Gormley said.

"The school responds by putting up security cameras, which the students say is violating their First and 14th Amendment rights."

Each team has five to 11 students and will participate in two trials on the day of the competition. Teams who win the morning and afternoon competitions will advance to the regional contest Feb. 21.

Those teams who win at regionals will move on to state finals March 6-8.

Gormley said the Ohio Center for Law Related Education started the competition in an effort to get students thinking about the legal system.

"The organization wanted to spark students' interest in legal matters and get them excited about looking into a career in this field," he said.

Gormley said the trials are great opportunities for students to develop a comfort level for public speaking, learn to cooperate in a group setting and learn critical-thinking skills.

He said students appreciate the event and walk away with a "courtroom" experience.

"It's a great experience for young people," Gormley said. "Real lawyers get a rush when they're in the middle of a case inside of a courtroom, and I believe students get to experience that rush during this mock trial."

Gormley said some students continue to take part in mock trials each year, which for him proves the program's success.

"When I see students come back year after year, it shows that they are growing in excitement for this subject area and are enjoying the event," he said.