Over the last 14 years, the non-competitive middle school mock trial program has been growing stronger and the 15th iteration of the program last Saturday at the Guma Hustisia in Susupe was no exception.
“It is now one of our signature student programs,” said Northern Marianas Humanities Council executive director Scott Russell.
The council established the program to prepare middle school students for the competitive mock trials that are offered once students reach high school.
According to Russell, the non-competitive mock trial program introduces middle school students to the basic concepts of mock trial without the pressure of winning.
Brian Flaherty, who has been an attorney coach for two years now, has always volunteered because he enjoys mentoring children in the ways of law. Flaherty said he has gained nothing but self-fulfillment and joy in seeing the students he coaches grow in the program.
According to Flaherty, the students don’t just learn basic court lingo and courtroom knowledge.
“Mock trial is an opportunity for students at this age level to gain confidence as well in speaking in front of a crowd and in front of an audience,” said Flaherty.
At such a young age, students don’t usually have the opportunity to stand before a court justice and defend their case. Mock trial offers these students that opportunity to develop not only speaking skills but critical thinking skills, too, he said.
Mock trial is all about coming up with a solution and defending that, according to Flaherty.
A mock trial participant from the Francisco Mediola Sablan Middle School, Elisha Posadas, has always had the passion for law—how it works, how it flows, the lingo—and she wanted to experience it all herself. Mock trial gave her that. After her participation, Posadas was thrilled and plans to join again once she reaches high school.
Humanities Council program officer Eulalia Arriola said the program gets smoother and smoother every year.
“This year, we’ve really strengthened our partnership with the court, coaches, and parents. They have been really supportive and we have really been more in sync…this has been the smoothest one in the past years,” said Arriola.