This year, thousands of Maryland high school students, teachers,
attorneys and judges engaged in lively courtroom drama in all parts of the
state, participating in the Maryland State Bar Association’s 2005 Statewide
High School Mock Trial Competition. For the last 22 years, MSBA’s Citizenship
Law-Related Education Program (CLREP) has presented the mock trial competition
as a public education program to teach young people about the law and enhance
their understanding of our legal system. Through this entertaining, interactive
and educational contest, high school students learn firsthand about our rule
of law, trial procedures and the role of attorneys and judges.
Last fall, 138 teams of high school students representing
every circuit in the state began preparing for MSBA’s 2005 Mock Trial
Competition with their respective teacher and volunteer lawyer coaches. The
student teams enact a mock trial while a volunteer judge deliberates. The competitions
begin in each county, advance to regional matches and culminate with the state
championship. Overall, 600+ enactments of the mock trial are convened during
The trials always focus on a contemporary high school issue
that is germane to the students’ lives. This year’s mock trial
case involved the timely issue of new drivers with multiple passengers in the
car. The case brings to light the number of fatal accidents in which new drivers
are involved, giving young people insight into the many dangers. A number of
legislative proposals on this subject were considered during the 2005 legislative
This year’s mock trial case sent a poignant message
to high school students, reinforcing the need to drive responsibly. A young
new driver leaves a party and gives his friends a ride home. As they are going
down the highway, one of the passengers wants to know how fast the SUV will
go, and the driver shows him. As he races down the highway, the driver turns
around to look at his friend in the back seat, drifts into oncoming traffic
and collides head-on into a truck. The truck driver and two of his passengers
are killed, and the driver of the SUV is charged with three counts of vehicular
“MSBA’s mock trial competition gives young people
the opportunity to come into a real courtroom and learn about the law and our
legal system while exploring a topic that can save lives,” states CLREP
Director Ellery “Rick” Miller.
This public education program teaches young people about
the law, our court system and the legal system in a fun and entertaining way.
The volunteer attorneys and judges enjoy the competition, too, and find it
quite rewarding. They interact with students in a creative and educational
environment and get caught up in the excitement along with the students.
On April 29, the two finalists – the Richard Montgomery
High School in Montgomery County and the Owings Mills High School in Baltimore
County – engaged in the final mock trial in the Court of Appeals of Maryland,
the Honorable Lynne Battaglia, Court of Appeals of Maryland, presiding. While
Richard Montgomery High School was declared the 2005 champion of the MSBA Mock
Trial championship, every student who participated came away a winner.
CLREP has presented this educational legal contest since
its inception in 1983. Working with students, teachers, volunteer attorney
coaches and judges, CLREP maps out the competition, forms school teams, selects
and analyzes a case and works with participants to master team strategy. Most
teams devote an average of 100+ hours of preparation and competition time to
the mock trial program, although the time commitment does go as high as 150
hours for some teams.
The Mock Trial program offers high school students a valuable
insight into the workings of our justice system so that they can better understand
its function in society. They see the law in action and develop a more constructive
attitude about our country’s legal system. To date, over 32,000 young
people have emerged from this competition as well-informed citizens who are
more knowledgeable about our legal system.
CLREP is celebrating its 30th anniversary throughout the
year 2005. MSBA’s educational arm presents a number of opportunities
for Maryland attorneys and judges to volunteer in public education programs
in state schools. It also sponsors Law Links, peer mediation, school violence
prevention and a wealth of publications and materials. MSBA members interested
in volunteering for any law-related program may contact CLREP at (410) 706-5360
or by visiting www.clrep.org.