You Be the Judge: Minarets Students Hold Mock Trial
Updated: May 18
by Johanna Ziegler
Over sixty parents and students were eyewitnesses to this year’s mock trial held by English teacher, Michael Vaughan. Spectators watched closely as the prosecution and defense teams fervently argued their cases, the trial then reaching a dramatic climax as the jury announced an unexpected verdict.
A mock trial, as indicated by the name, is a simulation of a real court case. Students are presented with a hypothetical criminal case, including witness statements and exhibits, and must compose arguments and utilize evidence to either defend or refute the innocence of the defendant on trial. Vaughan chose to hold a mock trial for his junior English students’ showcase because of all the challenges students must face during preparation. He says, “It showcases their ability to think critically, analyze and synthesize information, as well as present to a real audience.” Vaughan adds, “I like how competitive the students get. They want to win and therefore are invested in the project.”
This year’s case was The State of California v. Alex Buckley. Buckley, the alleged defendant, was accused of setting a dorm room on fire with the intent to murder Carly Walsh, his number one rival for a prestigious college scholarship. In a surprising turn of events, the jury voted in favor of Buckley’s innocence, 10 to 1. Needless to say, the defense team relished their victory.
After court was adjourned, defense team member junior Jeremiah Stott said he enjoyed the experience overall because of how “realistic” it felt. After watching courtroom scenes in different films and tv shows, he was glad to experience what it felt actually “being apart of it.”
One parent commented after the trial that he appreciated that the students were given an opportunity like this, saying it helped students “understand how the American judicial system works.” The parent went on to say how this sort of exposure can encourage students to pursue careers in the legal system after high school.
Overall, spectators seemed pleased with their students’ presentations during the trial. The mock trial is yet another example of creativity and analytical thinking in action, highlighting how Minarets is preparing students for an educational future.
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