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Trial draws students

Ironton St. Joseph High School has been awash with lawyers and witnesses who tried to discern whether students’ rights under the First and Fourth Amendments to the United States Constitution were violated when school officials and an undercover police officer attempted to prevent protests and searched their lockers, backpacks and cell phones.

“It’s all part of a fictional mock trial case from the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education,” Glenna McClain, St. Joseph High School mock trial team adviser, said. “Nine students from St. Joe polished their opening statements and closing arguments and witnesses for both plaintiff and defense reviewed their testimonies as part of the team’s entry.” 31st annual Ohio Mock Trial Competition.

St. Joe has been participating in the annual Ohio Mock Trial Competition for 25 years and its team was one of 13 that traveled to the Scioto County Courthouse in Portsmouth on Jan. 31 to take part in the high school.

Each year the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education writes an original, Constitution-based case meant to inform students of their rights as citizens as well as help them develop critical thinking, reading, writing, public speaking and listening skills.

The students prepare both plaintiff and defense cases and participate in two trials against different teams. This year’s plaintiff (a high school) was represented by attorneys Gavin Byerley and Emma Saxby. Witnesses for plaintiff were Ariel Porter and Alyssa Miller.

The defense team (a student group) was represented by attorneys Patrick O’Brien and Elijah Lutz and defense witnesses were Zorada Porter and Daniel Hodges. The bailiff and timekeeper was Isaac Walker. Alyssa Miller received an Outstanding Witness Award.

The competition is sponsored by the Supreme Court of Ohio, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the Ohio State Bar Association and the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation. The competition is made possible in part by a grant from the Ohio State Bar Foundation.

Local attorney Mark McCown served as legal adviser to the SJHS mock trial team.