Aug. 28, 2013 – When students head back to school, they need more than just pencils and paper. Regardless of what career path they may choose, they also need knowledge of the judicial system to prepare them for adulthood.
As part of its ongoing mission to help young people develop an understanding and appreciation of our courts and the legal system, the State Bar is welcoming back two of its dynamic public education programs: Mock Trial and Court with Class.
“These education programs – especially Mock Trial – help to teach our high school students that they have the capacity to succeed and excel in an adult world,” said State Bar of Wisconsin Mock Trial Committee Co-Chair Emily Lonergan. “They also encourage students to utilize respect, logic and hard work, which produce long-term benefits for society as a whole.”
Mock Trial practices will soon be underway as teachers, students and judges eagerly anticipate the 31st annual regional competition, which will take place on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014. The State Bar expects more than 100 teams to participate in this year’s competition, with schools representing all four corners of the state.
“This year is going to be a very exciting one for Mock Trial. Not only does the case contain some very relatable themes and characters for our high school competitors, we are hosting the national competition, right here in Wisconsin,” explained Lonergan.
As almost all high school mock trial participants know, the state case will not be released until Oct. 1, 2013. But in the meantime, the State Bar has released a teaser for the case:
Taylor Hamilton was driving Mom’s car, heading to P-cubed on the night of the big game. Alex Cooper left the game early because the team was losing, as usual. Alex cut through the woods and started to cross Nash Street, behind the high school. When the car and Alex collided, Alex was badly injured. Was Taylor careful enough or was Taylor distracted by friends and a text message? Did Alex’s hoodie cause a problem or did he exercise caution in crossing the road?
The national case will not be released until April 1. Students from all over the country will descend upon Madison for scrimmaging, competing, dining, and even dancing, with the final championship trial scheduled for May 10.
“This is especially exciting for Wisconsin’s state champ, as they will be battling for the national championship on their home turf. Plus, nationals will be great opportunity to showcase our state to teams from all across the country,” Lonergan said.
Katie Stenz is the public affairs coordinator with the State Bar of Wisconsin. She can be reached at org kstenz wisbar wisbar kstenz org, or by phone at (608) 250-6145.
The regional competition is also a great opportunity for attorneys who would like to volunteer to judge at the national championship. Volunteers must have judged two rounds before they can participate in the national event, so attorneys are encouraged to get involved with their local competition.
“Participation in Mock trial is incredibly important for attorneys. It is an opportunity to educate the future jurors of our state, as well as positively impact the public image of the legal profession,” Lonergan said.
For more information about the regional Mock Trial tournament or to get involved with the National Championship, contact State Bar Public Education Program Manager Marsha Varvil-Weld at email@example.com or (608) 250-6191.
Court with Class
Court with Class, a unique public education program run by the State Bar and Wisconsin Supreme Court, will also restart this fall.
Court with Class is more than just a field trip to the court. This program allows high school groups to gain an exclusive look at an oral argument in the state Supreme Court, and it provides educators with a special teaching opportunity. Prior to an oral argument, teachers are given a synopsis of the case, which allows them to use it as a classroom teaching tool. Before or after the argument, classes are able to discuss general legal issues with a real supreme court expert – a justice.
Many teachers choose to expand this visit, by including a meeting with their local legislators and a tour of the Wisconsin State Capitol.
Space for this program is very limited, so the State Bar encourages teachers to register early.
September 3, 4, 11, 18
October 3, 15, 22, 23
November 11, 19
December 5, 17, 18, 19
January 8, 9, 14, 15
February 4, 5, 20, 25
March 13, 14, 18, 19
To register for Court with Class, fill out this registration form and return it to: Public Education Coordinator, State Bar of Wisconsin, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158. Forms may also be emailed to PubEdCoordinator@wisbar.org.
To learn more about Court with Class, contact the program coordinator at PubEdCoordinator@wisbar.org or (800) 444-9404, ext. 6191.