More than 3,000 high school students across the state of Ohio will enter courtrooms across the state on Jan. 17 to take part in the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education’s (OCLRE) 37th Annual Ohio Mock Trial Competition.
District Mock Trial competitions for Scioto County will be held on Jan. 17 in the Scioto County Courthouse and the Portsmouth Municipal Building. The morning trials will begin at 9:30 and end at 11:30 a.m. and the afternoon trials will begin at 1:00 and end at 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
The 2020 Ohio Mock Trial case focuses on First Amendment student speech; specifically, the difference between on-campus and off-campus speech. Fictional plaintiff Rory Maldonado is suing their former high school and the high school principal for violating their First Amendment right to free speech. Rory was suspended from Senior Week activities and banned from walking at graduation due to their involvement with and planning of a demonstration for gun rights. Rory claims this was a violation of their rights because the event took place off campus.
Each Ohio Mock Trial team consists of five to eleven students who assume the roles of witnesses and attorneys to present both sides of an original, unscripted case based on a constitutional issue. Each team competes in two trials against opposing teams. More than 1,000 legal professionals serve as volunteer judges, competition coordinators, and team advisors. Ohio Mock Trial is Ohio’s largest high school academic competition and among the largest high school mock trial programs in the nation.
There are 11 local teams from the following eight schools participating in Scioto County District Competition: Notre Dame, Portsmouth, Portsmouth West, River Valley, South Webster, Ironton St. Joseph, Valley, and Wheelersburg high schools.
Winning teams will be announced and recognized in the lobby of the Scioto County Courthouse following the afternoon trials. Teams that advance from the District Competition will compete in the Regional Competition on Feb. 7. Regional winners will compete in the State Competition on March 12-14 in Columbus. The 2020 state champion team will represent Ohio at the National High School Mock Trial Championship in Evansville, Indiana, May 6-9.
The event is sponsored locally by American Legion James Dickey Post 23, Velma Feagans, Portsmouth Bar Association, Portsmouth Rotary Club, Southern Ohio Medical Center, the Scioto Foundation, and the Honorable Howard H. Harcha, III; and coordinated by Sharee Price, of the South Central Ohio Educational Service Center, and Judge Howard H. Harcha, III
For more information visit the South Central Ohio ESC online at www.scoesc.org, or follow on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.