Well over fifty (50) area high school students are participating in the annual Mock Trial tournament which got underway today in courtrooms throughout Oswego County. Teams from Central Square, Fulton, Mexico, Pulaski, Phoenix and Sandy Creek are presenting a fictitious case entitled, Pat Parker versus the Village of Empireville. The plaintiff in the case, student Pat Parker, is challenging a village ordinance that prohibits parking on streets surrounding the local school. Students who previously parked on these streets are now unable to because of the restriction.
Thomas Benedetto, coordinator of the local tournament said, “It is really neat to see so many students involved in Mock Trial. The case materials are extremely complex, but from what I observed today, it is obvious to me that the students have worked very hard to learn and practice the case,” he said. Details about this year’s case may be found online at the New York State Bar Association’s website by linking to it through the Oswego County Bar Association’s website: www.oswego-bar.org or searching the internet with: “Law, Youth and Citizenship Mock Trial Program.”
In a mock trial, students from one team represent the plaintiff and the other team represents the defendant. Students portraying attorneys must present evidence to a volunteer judge through their team’s witnesses. The students’ performances are scored by the judge on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest rating, or “excellent”. The win is awarded to the team who has the highest combined score.
This local tournament is part of the New York State Bar Association’s Law, Youth and Citizenship Program, but coordinated by the local bar association. Students plan and prepare their case based on materials and guidelines provided by the New York State Bar Association. Students from around the state compete in local competitions, with winning teams advancing to regional playoffs and a state final.
“We believe this program is an excellent way for students to further their understanding of the law, court procedures, and our legal system, in a hands-on environment,” Benedetto said. “For me, an important benefit of the program is that the students are given an opportunity to hone their speaking, listening, reading, and reasoning skills,” he added. “These are tools that they will undoubtedly be able to put to use and help them succeed in whatever endeavors they pursue,” Benedetto said.
In addition to thanking the attorneys and judges from the bar association who volunteer, Mr. Benedetto would like to also thank the school officials and teachers for their continued support and assistance with this program. “We couldn’t do this without them,” and he added “I would be remiss if I forgot to thank all of the local and county officials who help by allowing us to use their facilities,” said Benedetto. The students hold the trials in courtrooms in Oswego, Fulton and Pulaski. However, the program has also been allowed to use facilities in several communities, including Hastings and Palermo, Granby, Scriba and Volney, and the Village of Mexico.
The tournament is a double elimination format, so all of the teams competing today will advance to the next round on March 8th. Central Square, Phoenix and Sandy Creek, however, are currently tied for the lead, each with a first round win. Teams will be competing for the next several weeks and the winning team will compete in the regional competition in Oswego, on April 30th. The latter event is being hosted by the County Bar Association this year, and it will determine which team from a several county region moves on to compete in the state finals in Albany, May 22 through 24, 2011
Benedetto would like to inform people that the mock trials are open to the public. “The teams work very hard to prepare for the trials, and it would be great if we could have people come to support their efforts,” he said.
For more information, contact Thomas Benedetto, Esq. at (315) 278-6550.