We met for Mock Trial this morning, and what an amazing event it was. The Challenge B tutor from Connecticut and I from Vermont brought our two classes together for a combined performance at the courthouse in Northampton, Massachusetts. The “Old Courtroom” was just the right size for us, and I would like to meet there again next year. The acoustics were painful–hard to hear because of echoes—but next year we’ll arrange to have amplification.
All the students were dressed fit to kill and it was obvious they knew their parts. One young lady from Connecticut wowed us with her Opening Statement, which was persuasive and memorized. Outstanding. They each knew what they needed to ask, and they handled themselves very well. One very able young man froze like a deer in the spotlights during cross exam and I could tell afterwards that he felt like a failure. That was absolutely not the case; he was doing very well at attorney, and he carried off his role as witness with wit and confidence so no one doubted for a minute his remarkable ability. Another fellow, in giving the prosecution’s closing statement, described energetically, if not gruesomely, the actions of the defendant, and we got the impression he was enjoying himself throughly. Our bailiff, who was also a prosecuting attny, handled himself with increasing assurance until we felt he was an intimidating part of the court himself. The girl who played both Barbara Barrett and a defense attorney aggressively conducted her cross exam and won remarks afterwards.
My Sam was a believable medical examiner who rattled off facts and medical terms as if he has been doing it for years. The jurors and judge commented about it later. During cross exam he asked good questions just the way the judge (afterwards) told us it should be done: “You didn’t do such and so, did you.” He helped his prosecution witness tell her story in a logical, careful way. It is scary to be a witness, and it really helps to have the attorney feed questions to which you know the answers. I am proud of him.
It went surprisingly fast, and then the lawyer who played judge and the two law student jurors gave us lots and lots of tips. This was really for the benefit of the tutors, for these young men and women will not likely do another mock trial. Rose and I learned by these comments how many things we did well and what things we omitted to tell the kids (oops!). Our guests were very gracious and eager to give us the benefit of their expertise. Their highest praise was to tell them with some amazement that these junior high students did better than some first year law students. I am stoked to prepare my next team for Mock Trial.
We had a very satisfying day.