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High school moot court comes to Maryland

Mock trial has long been a staple of many Maryland high schools; I’m sure some of you reading this are now recalling the “cases” you argued lo these many years ago.

But this weekend, high school students from across the state are going from trial court to appellate court during the inaugural Maryland Invitational Moot Court Tournament on Saturday at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

Teams of students from seven schools are competing: Bishop Walsh (Cumberland), Friends, Owings Mills, Park, Potomac, Severn and Walter Johnson (Bethesda). They will argue before a number of state circuit and appellate court judges; retired Court of Appeals Judge Alan Wilner and Court of Special Appeals Judge Shirley Watts are scheduled to preside over the final.

“Mock trial offers a greater opportunity for those whose strengths lie in the presentation of material,” said Chris Lambert, the mock trial coach at Owings Mills and an event organizer. “In moot court, you might stress analytical qualities more.”

(Full disclosure: I went to Owings Mills — Go Eagles! — but did not have Mr. Lambert as a teacher nor participated in mock trial. My cousin, on the other hand, has had him as both a teacher and coach and will be competing in the moot court competition. If this blog post means any extra credit to you, Cara, you’re welcome.)

The legal question in the case created by Lambert and event organizers for the competition is whether a student’s statement to school authorities is admissible in court. It’s based on two recent Supreme Court decisions involving Miranda rights, J.D.B v. North Carolina and Berghuis v. Thompkins.

As in any appellate case, Lambert expects the judges to challenge the students’ arguments.

“We hope the judges do not take it easy and make them defend their positions,” he said.

The Maryland Moot Court Invitational Tournament begins at 10 a.m., with the championship round set to start at 5 p.m. For more information, email event organizers Laurie Terbeek or Lauren Dodrill.

One comment

  1. I have had the pleasure of being an attorney-evaluator for the Baltimore County high school moot court competitions for several years. The first time I judged a competition I was stunned! The students were poised and articulate-well prepared and perfectly at ease with their witness examinations. You could almost predict who would be a young prosecutor or defense attorney a few years down the road. It’s a wonderful program with high standards that the student’s continually meet. I’m glad they have a chance to step up now to the appellate court.