Witnesses were questioned and facts were uncovered Dec. 8 in this year’s Lorain County mock trial, with Dukes from McCormick Middle School making their presence felt.
Students filled courtrooms in the Lorain County Justice Center in Elyria. They staged cases such as “defending the indefensible” with President Andrew Jackson’s role in the forced removal of Native American tribes from their homelands in the southeastern United States.
This year, 451 fifth through eighth grade students from seven area districts took part.
In the Jackson case, McCormick faced off against student prosecutors from Sandusky and in a separate courtroom took on Avon Lake for State v. Lane, a hypothetical case where the defendant was charged with arson and inciting a riot.
“It meant a lot to me that I was chosen to be a part of this,” said McCormick eighth-grader Mackaylee McNeely, who acted as a juror. “Not many people are able to be in this field and I’ve learned it’s a very hard process. It gave me a new appreciation for what happens behind those doors.”
“You have to come up with questions on the fly,” said fellow Duke Maile Oswald. “I always thought the judge decided what happened in the end, but it’s really the jury.”
The program is set up through the gifted consortium of the Education Service Center of Lorain County with students acting as lawyers, witnesses, jurors, and bailiffs. Area lawyers stood in as judges.
“I’ve worked with different age groups in this program and giving a kid their first experience with this kind of work is very special to me,” said Kevin Corcoran, a North Ridgeville lawyer who oversaw the Jackson case. “It gives great perspective on what it’s really like to sit in those seats when it counts.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.