Thursday, December 9, 2010

Guest: Mrs. McMurray and Youth Court

Youth Court
types of case -- vandalism

More serious cases go to juvenile court

ages sent to youth court --

7 year old -- tobacco
9 and 11 -- had stolen money from their mother
8 year olds shoplifting

after 18 can't come to youth court anymore
after 18 only truancy and still in high school
Most from junior high

most common is truancy

Student volunteers -- 9th grade, second semester  and up
judge, bailiff,  prosecutor, clerk
come and observe then start out as bailiff to prosecutor(reads the case out loud), clerk, judge (usually panel of three)

Students can come twice -- after that they go to juvenile court
  goes on your record after that

Consequences --
community service -- must be done for a non-profit organization (library, etc.)
research -- tobacco case -- perhaps put up posters about dangers of tobacco
guidelines -- minimum/maximum service hours

prosecution reads police report
judge asks student to explain
Most common answer for vandalism -- "I just wasn't thinking."

Most cases tried individually -- but will sometimes deliberate more than one at once.
will hear both stories first


an opportunity for kids to teach other kids

Monica L
Joseph S
Cristine B
Jack H
Anthony J
Kenlee W
Alex P

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Special Guest: Deputy Court Clerk

Thank you to Mrs. Coleman for visiting our Mock Trial group and sharing so much interesting information about our court system! 
She recommended finding more information at

A few things we learned:
Locally there are district courts and justice courts and juvenile courts

There are criminal cases (misdemeanor and felony)
and civil cases.

The bailiff is an assistant to the judge -- often is a law student.

pro se = representing yourself
public defender
domestic court
small claims

Most courts/cases are open -- information is open to the public

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Answer for Physical Evidence Hypotheticals #2

Answer for Physical Evidence Hypotheticals #2

After asking permission to approach the witness,  show the tenant the photograph. Ask the tenant to identify it.
Ask questions establishing that the tenant lives in that apartment building, that he or she uses those stairs, and has used those stairs recently -- the day before the incident being examined in this trial, and on the day of the incident.
Ask the crucial question about whether the photograph represents the condition of the stairs on the day of the incident.

Ask the judge to admit the photograph as evidence.
Be prepared to answer any objections make by opposing counsel.

Back to 

Physical Evidence Hypotheticals

Back to

Physical Evidence Hypotheticals #1

Physical Evidence Hypotheticals #1  Answer

In a real court, the evidence is not marked until after it is introduced.  In Mock Trial we mark it before the trial.

Show Jeff the gun and ask him if he can identify it -- and, if so, how.  (This is called "laying a foundation" and it must always be done before physical objects can be entered into evidence.)
Once the witness has clearly identified the object (in this case the gun), the attorney asks the judge to have it accepted as an exhibit.  If no objection is made, or if the judge overrules the objection, the gun is admitted into evidence.

Back to

Physical Evidence Hypotheticals

Back to 

Physical Evidence Hypotheticals

 Read each of the following.  Think through how you would answer the question, writing it down if that helps you think.  Then check the answer.

You may if you wish use this one as an example of the kind of answer that is expected, so, if you'd like to, go ahead and look as soon as you've read the information. 

#1. Sam is on trial for murder.  The prosecution is trying to prove that he got the gun that was used to kill the victim from a friend's (Jeff's) gun cabinet.  Jeff, who has an extensive collection of both revolvers and shotguns, is on the witness stand.  You are the prosecuting attorney, and you want to get the murder weapon admitted into evidence.  What do you do?

#2.  Mr. Slumlord is being sued in a personal injury case.  A tenant in his building tripped on the back stairs and hurt her back.  She claims that the stairs had been in terrible condition for quite sometime.  Mr. Slumlord wants to prove that the stairs were actually in good condition the day before the tenant's accident, so he has brought a picture of the stairs taken the day before  the tenant fell.  Another tenant from the building is now testifying and, as the attorney for Mr. Slumlord, you want to get the photograph of the stairs admitted into evidence.  What do you do? 

1. List the steps you will take.  You may look back at the list given in this post: 

2. Write out the questions you will ask to lay foundation, and the crucial question. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Special Guest: Our Attorney Coach

Thank you, Mr. Lish, for coming to teach us about being an attorney!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

More about Mock Trial 2010-2011

     Mock Trial meets during Cave Time once a week until sometime in the latter half of January when we will receive this year’s case.  From then until the end of March the team (eleven members) will meet in Cave Time twice a week and before or after school twice a week.  We will participate in two or more competitions, each of which will require missing a half day to one whole day of school.  Our season will be over by the end of March.

   If you do not plan to try out for the competitive team, you may participate as interns/observers, attending our once-a-week Cave Time meetings, participating in our lessons and activities, and qualifying to come along to observe our competitions. 

     Mock Trial meets during Cave Time once a week until sometime in the latter half of January when we will receive this year’s case.  From then until the end of March the team (eleven members) will meet in Cave Time twice a week and before or after school twice a week.  We will participate in two or more competitions, each of which will require missing a half day to one whole day of school.  Our season will be over by the end of March.
   If you do not plan to try out for the competitive team, you may participate as interns/observers, attending our once-a-week Cave Time meetings, participating in our lessons and activities, and qualifying to come along to observe our competitions.

You can learn more about the state-wide program in which we participate by going to

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mock Trial 2010-2011

We'll begin our Mock Trial Training in October.

You can learn more about the state-wide program in which we participate by going to

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Deserved Thanks

Thanks to Mr. Randy Lish, who as our real-life attorney coach was available to answer questions and who took time to come to a couple of our meetings to listen to the students, make suggestions, and teach them about how our legal system works.  Attorney coaches play an important role for mock trial teams as they teach and guide while the student teams do the actual work of building their own cases. 

Thank you to our school administration for all your support. 

Thank you to Mr. Wicks for sharing from a grant funds that allow us to register each year, and for loaning us his calculators.  (I will get them back to you, Ron!)

Thank you, Terese, for making our name tags!

A special thank you to the parents who support their children in this activity, and who come when they can to see our competitions -- and who loan each other change for  parking meters.   I thank you, too,  for raising such great kids!

Thank you to teachers who are patient with students who didn't get quite get their homework done because they were writing an opening or closing statement or questions or studying a witness statement, and who missed class to participate in competitions.

Thanks to Gayle Hansen who allowed the Mock Trial kids to split after-school time between mock trial practice and play practice.

Thanks, Fantasy Writers, for sharing the classroom on Wednesdays!

Thanks, Celeste, for doing such a fine job as a sub while I was at competitions.

Thank you to Utah Law Related Education for providing this wonderful opportunity for students throughout the state.  Their stated purpose is

To provide law related and citizenship education for Utah's youth and communities through interactive educational experiences and curricula which foster in them an understanding of the law, the legal system, and their rights and responsibilities as engaged citizens.
You can visit their web site at

Mock Trial Outcome

On Friday, in a competition at the Salt Lake Justice Court, the other team (Christian Heritage in Riverton) won by points, and  we won the case.  Our defendant was not proven guilty of negligently causing an accident by texting while driving, and will not have to pay damages to the plaintiff. 

Our congratulations to Christian Heritage.  They did a fine job, and we enjoyed playing against them.  It was an exciting trial.

Our team members (seventh and eighth graders) were amazing.  They outshone the other team in understanding procedure and many fine points of the case.  Our student attorneys were knowledgeable and daring in making objections.  They knew how to introduce evidence and impeach a witness.  They had written opening and closing statements, questions for direct and cross examinations, and prepared their witnesses.  

The witnesses had learned the material in lengthy witness statements,  prepared themselves to be an eighteen-year-old defendant, a police officer, and an emergency room doctor, and had contributed greatly to building our case. 

Our bailiff was prepared to swear in witnesses, time each part of the trial, and assist the judges in whatever ways they requested (which is different with each set of judges). 

They all presented themselves professionally and with civility.

These students responded with flexibility and a willingness to take on new challenges when two of our four student attorneys had to drop out in the last week because of illness and family needs.  Attorneys redistributed jobs and took on extra responsibilities.  A student who had never participated in Mock Trial nor seen the case materials stepped in to become one of our witnesses. 

We can be so proud of our American Fork Junior High Mock Trial team.

On February 25 our team was the plaintiff team, and switched to become the defense team on March 12.

Our attorneys at  this March 12 trial:
Boa B. -- He was an attorney in both trials and took on extra duties when needed at the last minute for this trial.
Jessica J. -- She was an attorney in both trials and took on extra duties when needed at the last minute for this trial.
Morgan L. -- He was an attorney in the last trial, had prepared to be a witness in this trial, but again became an attorney at the last minute.

Our witnesses at the March 12 trial:
Mary A. as the defendent, Riley Garner --  She was our bailiff in our first competition.
Lincoln G. as the police officer, Adrian Knight -- He first saw the materials two days before this trial.
Rebekah M. as the emergency room doctor, Dr. Courtney Baston --  She played a witness for the plaintiff (an accident reconstructionist) in our first trial.

As bailiff  at the March 12 trial:
Kelsy F.  -- She was a witness for the plaintiff (an eyewitness of the accident) in our first trial.

Thanks and praise also go to
Elizabeth C. who was an attorney in our first trial.
Sarah W. who played a witness (the plaintiff) in our first trial.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Junior High Scores

To see the scores throughout the state, including ours, go to

The shaded lines indicate teams that will most likely go on to semi-finals. 

If we win. . .

quarter finals are March 22, 23, and 24 with semi-finals on March 26th.

Monday, March 1, 2010

March 12 Defense Roster

Defense Team Roster

Utah Mock Trial Program

DATE:            March 12, 2010
TIME:             1:00 -
LOCATION:   Salt Lake Justice Court  Courthouse Courtroom 5

 TEAM # 1
Teacher/Sponsor             Claudia Dorsey

Attorney Coaches    Randy Lish

Defense Team Members

Student Attorneys            Duties to be Performed

1.   Boa                  Opening Statement/Direct of Riley Gardner/ Cross of Peyton Larson       
2.   Morgan            Direct  of Dr. Courtney Baston /Cross of C.J. Simpson
3.   Jessica               Direct of Adrian Knight/Cross of  Sydney Young /Closing Statement

Witness #1      Mary     as  Riley Gardner
Witness #2      Lincoln      as  Adrian Knight
Witness #3     Rebecca     as  Dr. Courtney Baston
 Bailiff            Kelsy    

Friday, February 19, 2010



Wednesday, February 24, 2010
1:00 – 4:00

Plaintiff Team I.D.     1                               Defense Team I.D.     42


            Sean Hullinger

            Attorney at Law



            Susan Griffith


            J. Reuben Clark College of Law at Brigham Young University



            Sondra Green


            Heber City

Thursday, February 11, 2010


  1. National Crime Information Center (NCIC) - FBI Information Systems

    NCIC is a computerized index of criminal justice information (i.e.- criminal record history information, fugitives, stolen properties, missing persons). ...

Financial Responsibility Law

What is a ‘financial responsibility’ law?

A "financial responsibility" law requires you to prove your financial ability to pay for damages at the time you are involved in an accident or are convicted of a traffic violation. This type of law does not require that you have insurance or other proof of financial responsibility at the time of vehicle registration. However, failure to demonstrate the required level of financial responsibility at the time of an accident or traffic violation can result in suspension of your driver's license or revocation of your vehicle registration. Under these laws, the requirement to demonstrate financial responsibility is not based on fault. All parties involved in an accident must show the necessary proof or face the penalties imposed by the law. Maintaining an automobile insurance policy is the most common way to comply with a financial responsibility law.


Thursday, February 4, 2010



If arguing for your objection, "My response is that. . . ."

(not important to the case)

(no leading on direct exam) -- watch for "yes, no, correct"

(only the witness’ reputation/character for truthfulness is at issue here)

(out of court statement to prove the truth of the matter-ask to strike) --- Hearsay -- what someone else had said -- someone not testifying. You could object at various times in the testimony -- if more "hearsay" is introduced. "______ is not in court today."

Possible answer to hearsay objection --- ". . . is a party in this case, and therefore his statements are not hearsay. . . "

(not an expert or not the experts area)

(doesn’t have info about the particular issue)

(attorney argues or seems to presenting an argument in the guise of a question)

(guessing about something) "Objection, Your Honor, calls for speculation." They are guessing about something they really can't know -- such as motivation, what is in someone else's mind, etc.

(didn’t take information in small steps that make sense or build on the ideas correctly) -- Avoid this one by laying a foundation for further questions.

(witness has already testified about this)

(witness seems to be evading the answer)

(Something being said is materially affecting the outcome of the case)

NARRATION -- When cross examining, you may want to ask the judge to direct the witness to
(witness is going beyond the question asked) answer the question. During the other side's direct, you could make this objection about their witness.

(using religion to + or - a witness)

(objection only for redirect or recross-going over info not brought up)

(counsel on closing brings up info that didn’t get in at trial)

Group Pictures

They will take group pictures for yearbook on February 10.  That will include us.  Please come prepared to be in a picture!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Correct Spelling of Names

Please be aware of the following:

Correct Spelling:
Dr. Cortney Baston  Oops!  They just corrected it again.  It's Courtney.
Sidney Young

Thursday, January 28, 2010


The Bench:  where the judge (s) sit

Notes for a Civil Case

Notes for a Civil Case

Civil Wrong -- Torte Claim

Plaintiff needs to prove negligence.
We need to understand the meaning of negligence under the law.
 The plaintiff should get the final word because plaintiff has the burden of proof.

 Plaintiff must show all 5 to prevail:
1. duty owed (something the defendant should have been doing)
2.  breach of duty
3.  factual links between duty and cause
4.  further -- proximate (legal) link cause (timing)
5.  show harm -- actual damages
(In this case we will not discuss damages in dollar figures -- unlike a real-life case.)

Define negligence:  actual conduct is culpable (guilty because it falls short of what a reasonable person would do under the circumstance. 

 foreseeable risk of harm
draw conclusion of what could reasonably happen
don't move beyond fact statement

The objection must come from the person being scored in that portion of the scoring.  You will object when the witness being examined is your assigned witness for direct or cross.

objections by team lawyers
prepare to impeach a witness
"Show me in your statement where you said that. "  Is it a fair or an unfair extrapolation?  
An extrapolation that would affect the outcome of the case should be objected to and the objection should be sustained.

prepare to introduce exhibits
called exhibit before introduced as evidence -- have available for opposing team and judges before trial begins. 
-- move for admission -- make the motion
take it step by step  -- all parts of the trial 

prepare to have witness recognized as an expert witness

lay foundation -- 
establish  who they are and what it is that they know.

While conducting a witness examination, as needed, you may say, "Your Honor, I need a moment to confer with council."  That means you would like to consult with your fellow attorneys.  Use this sparingly!

You can go back to a witness before the closing argument.

Always civility! 
-- treat the witness respectfully, but dismantle their story.  The best part is often spontaneous conversation -- when you are reacting (with understanding of the case) to what the opposition is saying at the time. 

Ask questions -- don't accuse
"Swing with confidence -- if you're pretty sure you're carrying a big bat.  

Be bulldogs about rules -- make sure you know them well, and hold the other team to them.  
If judge seems to not understand the rules,  ask to approach the bench -- (you always ask permission if you wish to approach the bench.)
Ask, "How would you interpret this for me?" 

 (You always ask permission of the judge if you wish to approach the bench, the witness, the bailiff.)

Make sure we debrief after the first experience.   No "hangover."  No "glorifying."

This will be a BATTLE OF THE EXPERTS.   Experts must be able to portray the facts with confidence -- deliver lots of facts quickly.   tell the story.

 Language for a civil case:  preponderance of evidence  All five
tip the scale -- 50% plus a grain of sand (or a feather)
*Do not leave in doubt anything you can show.

As the plaintiff you are holding the defendant liable for his/her conduct.
He/She erred in conduct.
Show all 5 elements. 

On either side -- make your tone and language precise

Show that you've proven your case and highlight that for the judge.
  shine a bright light on it.
Defense -- show that the plaintiff has NOT proven their case.

Language matters!
Read the case closely -- How did you see it?


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Comparing Cars

C.J. saw something like a Camry.   Riley was driving a Honda Accord.  Of course, in different years, the cars would have looked somewhat different.


Link to Lots of Wonderful Information About Mock Trial


Thursday, January 7, 2010

2009-2010 Competition Dates

P    2/24    1:00    in Orem
            X Springville

D    3/12    1:00    at SL Justice Court
            X Christian Heritage