Fund supports Mock Trial

Posted on February 27, 2017

The St. Clair County Bar Association was busy this past Saturday hosting its annual Mock Trial competition. The association leaders, like Judge Cynthia Platzer, love the event so much they created the St. Clair County Bar Mock Trial Fund at the Community Foundation in 2016 to support it. 

Judge Platzer said Mock Trial brings together students from diverse backgrounds who might not otherwise associate. Some join to learn about the law, some for the drama and thrill of nailing a great performance. Others just enjoy the camaraderie.

“Through the team work required in a mock trial competition, students establish relationships and respect for other’s feelings, points of view and differences,” she said.

In all, nine high schools participated in this year’s Mock Trial with 14 teams competing.

Kate Vernier, a senior at Algonac High School, said she joined to learn how the court system works and see if it’s something she would be interested in for a career.

Vernier added the program has taught her a lot about critical thinking and being able to think on her toes in a high pressure situation.

“Students volunteer to participate in Mock Trial,” Judge Platzer said. “They are not earning a grade. There is no outward incentive. Those who stay learn lessons which will be with them for life.”

Life lessons include teamwork, persistence, hard work, determination, persuasion, professionalism, self-confidence, critical thinking, sharpened analytical skills, tolerance, goal setting, public speaking skills and respect.

“The successful team will study, prepare, practice, persist, practice some more, believe, adjust, practice some more – and rise to the challenge,” Judge Platzer said. 

While working toward their common goal, team members need to realize every member brings talent and ideas to the table, and differing points of view are important to the development of the case. Judge Platzer said they learn how it feels to have their thoughts valued and used at young ages. 

“They learn to value and to be valued,” Judge Platzer added.

Mock Trial also enables students to have positive interactions with judges, attorneys, police officers and teachers. The coaches, made up of teachers and lawyers who volunteer their time, give careful to guidance to the students. “Mock Trial is labor and time intensive – and a true labor of love for these students” she said.

“By developing the (St. Clair County Bar) Mock Trial Fund, we are hoping to assure the program will be run for years to come,” Judge Platzer continued. “Our Mock Trial program costs the schools and students nothing. We provide not only the forum, but also lunch and snacks.”

The St. Clair County Bar also currently pays three entry fees to the Regional competition each year, which rotates amongst the schools and costs $250 per team.  In the future, she hopes the fund can cover the cost of the entry fee for each school and team wishing to go on to Regionals.

“The thrill of the competition does not have to end that last Saturday in February in St. Clair County,” Judge Platzer said. 

The fund creators also hope to develop a scholarship program, but it could take years for it to happen since the fund needs to grow large enough to allow sufficient income to pay for scholarships.

Judge Platzer added Mock Trial is open to all students. It is not a program offered to generate a farm team of young lawyers. 

“And the best part is, these students have great fun learning these incredibly important life lessons and skills,” she said.


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