The NMI Judiciary conducted the Judiciary Mock Trial Academy on Dec. 1 and 2 to prepare students for the 2018 CNMI High School Mock Trial Competition and National High School Mock Trial Championship. Over 80 students from nine high schools on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota gathered at the Guma’ Hustisia for two days of intense lectures on various facets of mock trial rules and legal practices.
Lecturers included Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona, magistrate judge Heather L. Kennedy, and law clerk Richard C. Miller from the U.S. District Court, as well as Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa K. Kim-Tenorio, assistant U.S. Attorney Garth R. Backe, and Supreme Court law clerk Benjamin C. Byers. The lectures focused on evidentiary rules such as impeachment, hearsay, relevance, and introduction of exhibits, as well as witness portrayal and effective trial presentation.
The mock trial competition will be held on Feb. 15– to 16, 2018, at the Guma’ Hustisia. Each team will have witnesses and attorneys, presenting the prosecution and defense sides of United States v. Lou Perez, a fictitious case about a military veteran charged with assault on a federal officer. Competitors will be judged based on their knowledge of the evidence and ability to present a logical and persuasive case.
The program is designed to introduce students to the legal system by providing a challenging, academic competition. Members of the bench and attorneys serve as presiding judges, jurors, and attorney coaches. “Thanks to the volunteer efforts of our legal community, this program has been successful for the past 20 years,” said Deanna M. Ogo, mock trial coordinator.
The winning team will travel to the National High School Mock Trial Championship in Reno, Nevada on May 10 to 12, 2018, to compete with over 40 teams from across the nation. The CNMI High School Mock Trial Program is sponsored by the NMI Judiciary, CNMI Bar Association, and CNMI Public School System. (PR)