A team from Westside Neighborhood School in Del Rey recently advanced to the quarterfinals of a mock trial competition involving 120 schools.
The team of 22 middle school students finished with one of the top four scores in the competition, held at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles.
Students prepared for both the defense and prosecution of a case, filling all of the roles from prosecuting attorney to defense attorney, bailiffs and expert witnesses. For its mock trial, the Del Rey school team presided over a hit and run case, which concerned the son of a mayor who is accused of a hit and run.
The issue is whether the defendant was actually driving the car when the boy was hit.
The teams must prepare and follow the rules of evidence, as well as courtroom protocols and procedures.
The WNS team practiced for weeks and on weekends as a part of an elective course. Coached by social studies teacher Rob Young and by several law students, the team had the opportunity to take a field trip to visit Judge Upinder Kalra’s courtroom and observe an actual trial.
“The cool thing about this program is the respect that the two competing teams show for one another and the fact that we get to participate in real courtrooms downtown with real judges and attorneys who serve as scorers and jurors. It’s great to get their feedback on how our students perform and what they can do better,” Young said.