The 2017 National High School Mock Trial Championship, promoting an understanding and appreciation of the American judicial system through academic competitions and related programs for high school students, will take place May 11-13, 2017 in Hartford. The national mock trial championship was initiated in 1984 in Des Moines, Iowa, with high school teams from Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin participating. After the success of the inaugural tournament in Iowa, more states became interested in participating and the tournament became an "All-State" Tournament and now attracts competitors from across the country and internationally.
The tournament is hosted annually by different states to ensure that the cost of running the tournament doesn't fall disproportionately on any particular state.
The Carolina Center for Civic Education is making final preparations for the 2015 National Championship, which will be held May 14-16 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Connecticut will be represented by the team from Weston High School, the 2015 High School Mock Trial State Champions. The winning team was one of three from the school that participated in the statewide competition in March. The finals were held in the State Supreme Court chamber in Hartford. The students on the winning “Weston Red” team were Ursula Alwang, Cameron Edgar, Sam Glasberg, Zoe Howard, Alex Ishin, Scarlett Machson, Ben Muller, Jack Seigenthaler, Henry Tracey, and Micah Zirn, the Weston Forum reported.
The Idaho Law Foundation will host the 2016 National Championship in Boise, Idaho. Last year's competition in Madison, Wisconsin included a total of 46 teams, including Guam, South Korea, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and State Champion teams from across the country.
In Connecticut, the mock trial competition is sponsored by the nonprofit organization Civics First. Throughout its history, thousands of students and their teachers have participated in the program. In recent years, the program has included over 700 students from more than 50 Connecticut high schools.
The high school mock trial competitions are held each year in the fall. Regional trials are held in early winter in superior courts throughout the state, followed by quarter-finals, and semi-final contests. The state final mock trial competition is held at the Connecticut Supreme Court in Hartford.
For the national competition, each state’s "official team" includes six to eight student team members; one primary teacher coach; one primary attorney coach, and the State Mock Trial Coordinator, for a maximum of 11 members of the "official" team.
In recent years, the competition has been held in Madison, Wisconsin (2014), Indianapolis, Indiana (2013), Albuquerque, New Mexico (2012), Phoenix, Arizona (2011), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2010), and Atlanta, Georgia (2009). The Executive Director of Civic First and state coordinator for the high school mock trials in Connecticut is Beth DeLuco.
Civics First is a private, non-profit association that promotes and conducts law-related education programs and projects in Connecticut's public and private schools, courtrooms and communities. Its goal is the incorporation of citizenship education into the curriculum of all schools, from kindergarten through high school.
Photo: The Weston High School Mock Trial Red Team won the Connecticut state championship . (This photo originally appeared in the Weston Forum.)