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LHS students get courtroom experience

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3 7 lisd court experience

By Enterprise Staff

Livingston High School students recently participated in a mock trial competition against Porter High School at the Liberty County Court Annex in Cleveland.  

This is the first year LHS students have competed in a mock trial competition. Student members on the mock trial team are Meyeah Escobedo, Danielle Dickens, Levi Perry, Denisse Diaz Luna, Ethan McWhorter, Makayla Brooks and Jaxon Grimm.

Mock trial allows students to study a court case, take on the roles of an attorney or witness, and engage in a court scenario in which there is a judge and jury present. 

There are two sessions in a mock trial. In session one, campus A portrays prosecution and campus B portrays the defense. In session two, the roles switch, so each campus has the opportunity to represent both sides. Students are tasked with the responsibility of convincing the jury of their argument. The mock trial process is similar to a real court setting. Students begin with opening statements, prosecution and defense present their cases, and call upon and cross-examine witnesses. They present exhibits/evidence, and make their closing arguments to the jury. Once the process is over, the judge gives feedback to students and scores them, which determines which campus will advance to the next step and go to the state competition in Dallas.

Sophomore Meyah Escobedo led the mock trial team this school year. She was in charge of researching the competition and gathering information about how it works, recruiting a team of seven students to participate, delegating roles to each member, and arranging practices on weekends for students to study and become familiar with the case.  During practices, advisors Eric Young and Meagan Martin were present, and on several occasions, Polk County Felony Prosecutor Scott Ferguson, and Assistant District Attorney/Misdemeanor Prosecutor Mackenzie Smith would attend as well. Ferguson and Smith were both valuable resources to students and served as coaches during many practices. On the day before the official mock trial competition, Ferguson arranged for the mock trial team to go to the Polk County Courthouse to conduct their last practice session in a realistic courtroom. Escobedo regularly communicated with her advisors, mock trial team, and local officials to make the process happen. She demonstrated strong leadership skills that will benefit her as she pursues her interest in the field of law.

Overall, the students placed second at the mock trial competition. McWhorter, won the award for “outstanding witness” for his performance on the stand. Although the team did not advance to the state competition in Dallas, the students were said to have positive attitudes and felt that the competition was a fun and beneficial learning experience that they plan to continue next school year. 

“I learned so much from this experience,” Escobedo said. “I really developed my confidence and leadership skills, and I learned how to work with a team to accomplish a goal.” 

She also said the experience has increased her passion for law, and hopes to get involved in an internship with the local district attorney’s office next school year. She said the team is confident to begin work on the next case and participate at the next mock trial competition.  

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