Every lawyer got their start somewhere.
For local young people, it might have been events such as this year’s 11th Annual Junior High Mock Trial hosted by the Northern Marianas Humanities Council on April 18 at the Guma’ Hustisia in Susupe.
This year’s case is a fictitious murder trial, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands v. Quinn Siguenza. Police detective Quinn Siguenza has just been indicted by a grand jury for the murder of a suspected drug dealer, Vinson Perez. Perez was gunned down in an alley behind a local bar. Eyewitness testimony and forensic evidence claimed Siguenza was the murderer. However, other eyewitnesses claimed other individuals may have been involved. Each team argued their case before a real judge.
Though it is non-competitive, Eskuelan San Francisco de Borja and students from nine other schools were each recognized by the judges.
Students from Eskuelan San Francisco de Borja that were recognized for superior achievement for their role as defense attorneys are Tyra Reese A. Calvo, Angelo S. Lucero, and Marjorie J. Banaag.
Joshua James O. Puerto, Jeremy John Atalig II, and Raimundo Y. Manglona were recognized for their role as defense witnesses.
Aside from the Northern Marianas Humanities Council recognizing the ESFDB students, the Pacific Regional Training Institute/U.S. Army Child, Youth, and School Services out of Hawaii also recognized the students for their outstanding achievement.
“I saw these students in action in their school Facebook and they were nothing short of awe-inspiring,” said Col. Jon Takamura of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate Corps. “I witnessed a commitment to excellence I don’t often see in high school students. I salute the attorney and teacher coaches for their excellent job.”
“I hope that the school continues their participation in this valuable educational program. It offers students an opportunity for personal growth and achievement, emphasizing the importance of research, presentation, and teamwork,” said Capt. Ford Ebesugawa.
“These students have achieved something very impressive with their performance during the Junior High Mock Trial event. It helps the students with public speaking and teaches them critical thinking,” said ESFDB administrator/principal Carmen H. Atalig. “Not only were they recognized for their outstanding performances but they earned a good grade for their performances. It’s an invaluable experience.”
“They’ve represented our school and Luta community very well. I am proud of the achievements of these God-given talented students,” added Atalig.
“I was the bad police detective,” said 6th grade student Raimundo Y. Manglona. “I found out what it was like to be on trial. It was intimidating to have people present all kinds of negative evidence against you. It was actually quite amazing. I enjoyed my time and a lot of fun.”
“I participated three times. And in those times, I had been recognized outstanding witness and attorney,” said 8th grade student Tyra Reese A. Calvo. “I want to thank Mr. Ed [Maratita Jr.], our lawyer coach, for believing in me and showing me my potential to be a lawyer someday.”
The Eskuelan San Francisco de Borja Junior High Mock Trial team had been preparing for the event since January this year.
The Junior High Mock Trial event was ESFDB’s culmination of a 12-week class conducted by Army Judge Advocate General Corps attorney coach Capt. Edward Maratita Jr. and assisted by teacher coach Mary Rose Lucero.
“During the 12-week class, there was a lot of reading, they had a long packet of information to read before the junior high mock trial, and I am very proud of them because they were focused and disciplined,” said Maratita, who is also the ESFDB board chairman. “The students had a sense of how the judicial system works. Next year we’re hoping to get more student participation in the junior high mock trial classes to build around for the future.”
The administration, faculty, and students would like to express their appreciation to the NMI Humanities Council, Superior Court judges and Supreme Court justices, Pacific Regional Training Institute Legal Counsel Division (Hawaii), Arlo Lucero, and to the parents for their encouragement and support. (ESFDB)