Nov. 26, 2013 – Winter in Wisconsin typically means one thing to its residents: snow – and lots of it. But to high school mock trial teams, it means that it’s time to begin developing arguments and pouring over a true-to-life court case in an effort to prepare for the regional high school mock trial competition, which is just a few, cold months away.
This year, the regional competitions will be held at 11 locations around the state – which is one more than last year with the addition of a new region in Milwaukee – on Saturday, Feb. 8.
“Hosting a regional competition in Milwaukee will give area attorneys and judges a new opportunity to contribute to the mock trial program,” said Scott Campbell, assistant U.S. Attorney and Whitefish Bay High School mock trial team attorney-coach. “I hope that it will encourage these individuals to serve as volunteer judges.”
Shorewood High School Attorney-Coach Nathan Bayer explained that the addition of the Milwaukee region comes at a time when school budgets are tight and the number of Milwaukee-area competitors has dropped off.
“Before we added the new region, Milwaukee area schools that wanted to compete had to travel to Racine, Kenosha or Waukesha. Given how tight school budgets have become – and how tightly the budgets for extracurricular activities have been squeezed – many schools in the area could not afford to travel to these distant locations. And as a result, we saw participation in the mock trial program decline in the Milwaukee area,” said Bayer, who is an attorney at Crivello Carlson, S.C.
Campbell and Bayer, along with others, have also arranged for the students in this region to compete at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin courthouse in Milwaukee.
“The federal courthouse isn’t just a building; it is a historically significant Wisconsin landmark, and it’s a privilege to be there,” Bayer said.
Campbell has had the opportunity to practice in the federal courthouse every day for 16 years, something he still finds inspiring.
“All these years later, I am still in awe of the place and the many excellent attorneys and judges who, over the course of more than 100 years, have worked there to see justice done,” Campbell said. “The students will undoubtedly be inspired by the venue and remember the event for the rest of their lives.”
Campbell and Bayer said that Chief Judge William Griesbach deserves the credit for making the new location of the competition a reality.
“He approved, without hesitation, our request to use the federal courthouse for the regional competition,” Campbell said. “We also received a great deal of support fromboth the Clerk of Court Jon Sanfilippo and the Deputy Clerk of Court Michael Williams, as well as the General Services Administration, the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association, State Bar Public Education Program Manager Marsha Varvil-Weld, and State Bar Mock Trial Program Regional Coordinator Tom Hruz, who, along with fellow coordinators Joe Wilson and David Turek, will be running the Milwaukee regional competition.”
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.
In order to keep the ball rolling, Campbell said that he and Bayer still need to raise an additional $2,000 beyond what the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association generously pledged. The funds are needed to cover costs for additional building security and heating the courtrooms during the competition.
The State Bar and its charitable arm, the Wisconsin Law Foundation, have an online giving campaign. To donate to the state mock trial competition, click here and select ‘WLF Mock Trial Designated Fund’ under the program tab. All donations are tax deductible.
Checks can also be made out to the Wisconsin Law Foundation and mailed to P.O. Box 7158 Madison, WI 53707-7158. Please make a note on the check that you would like your donation to go to the state mock trial competition and even more specifically, toward the Milwaukee regional competition.
With 94 teams registered, the State Bar’s mock trial coordinators are feeling confident in this year’s turnout, especially with the impending national championship, which will be held in Madison from May 8 to 10.
This will be an exciting year for mock trial in Wisconsin, as the winning team will have the opportunity to compete in finals as the host state, something that hasn’t happened in more than 20 years.
High school teams have until Dec. 13, 2013, to register for the regional competition. This year there will be events in 11 regions: Eau Claire, Green Bay, Wisconsin Rapids, Appleton, La Crosse, Madison, Janesville, Milwaukee, Juneau, Waukesha and Racine.
Click here for registration details, an entry form and general mock trial information.
For more information contact:
Public Education Program Manager
State Bar of Wisconsin