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Mock Trial



Mock trial teams at Ithaca High School and Lehman Alternative Community School give students the opportunity to develop skills around law, trial procedures, trial advocacy, and public speaking.
 
The teams are currently working hard to prepare for regional competition in April, which will center on a case regarding an alleged criminal incident at a fictional high school.
 
During trial, each student has their own role as a prosecutor, defense attorney or witness and must make their case before a judge—typically a practicing attorney. Teams are judged based on case presentation, ability to follow proper procedure, and professional decorum.
 
Teams that perform well at the regional level will then move on to the state championship in Albany.
 
While Mock Trial’s procedures differ slightly from those of actual trials, the program gives students an understanding of law and legal procedure while allowing them to hone their debating and problem-solving skills. It also helps students learn how to think on their feet; while opening statements and direct questioning are largely rehearsed, the cross-examination portion of the trial allows participants to improvise.
 
The budding attorneys must also learn and practice what they can and can’t ask during questioning, what actions are objectionable, how to properly submit items into evidence, and how to adjust presentation style depending on the judge.
 
During practice, LACS’ 13 team members take on leadership roles within the group and help one another improve, said Michael Nardi, a humanities teacher and former attorney himself. Nardi has advised the team for the last six years, but says the group is largely student-run. “I just help and supervise a little bit,” he added. “They know more than I do.”
 
LACS’ team is an even mix of newcomers and returning students, but all feel like the team has a family-like atmosphere. “It’s a bonding experience. These are longtime friends,” said team captain Alec Simmons.
 
Roman Predmore, an LACS junior who joined this year, said he was interested in learning more about law when he joined. However, he’s quickly gained knowledge in other areas. “It’s more than just a class about law,” he said. “We teach each other. There’s a lot of acting and performance that I’m excited to learn more about.”

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DISTRICT INFO

Ithaca City School District
Dr. Luvelle Brown, Superintendent
400 Lake Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
(607) 274-2101