Students’ Legal Battle to End at the Ohio Statehouse
About 300 Ohio high school students will arrive in Columbus on March 9 to vie to become state champion of the 34th Annual Ohio Mock Trial Competition.
In this year’s fictitious case, Pat Justice v. CAT News et al., students will consider the defamation of a public official by a news station. Gov. Pat Justice speaks at a school assembly. Afterward, he meets with the school principal and an argument ensues. Gov. Justice leaves abruptly, and the principal is found dead from a brain aneurysm. A student who overheard the argument reports to a local news outlet that Gov. Justice killed the principal. While the student’s account is quickly disproven, the story goes viral. The governor loses a bid for re-election and files civil suit against the news station, alleging defamation.
Mock trial teams from the following high schools have advanced from district and regional competitions:
- Athens County; home-school team – Olivia Davidson Washington
- Butler County – Talawanda High School
- Clark County – Springfield High School
- Cuyahoga County – Hathaway Brown High School, Orange High School, Strongsville High School
- Franklin County – Bishop Watterson High School, Columbus School for Girls, Dublin Jerome High School, Thomas Worthington High School, Westerville North High School
- Geauga County – Notre Dame Cathedral Latin High School
- Hamilton County – Indian Hills High School, Reading Community High School, St. Xavier High School, Summit Country Day School, Sycamore High School
- Knox County – Danville School District
- Lorain County – Lake Ridge Academy
- Lucas County – Sylvania Southview High School
- Montgomery County – Dayton Early College Academy
- Scioto County – Portsmouth High School
- Stark County – Lake High School Uniontown, Perry High School
- Summit County – Archbishop Hoban High School, St. Vincent St. Mary High School
- Warren County – Kings High School
Each team consists of five to 11 students who assume the roles of witnesses and attorneys to present both sides of an original case based on a constitutional issue. Each team will compete in two trials against opposing teams.
Ohio Mock Trial is a program of the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education and is Ohio’s largest high school academic competition. More than 3,500 students participate each year, and about 1,000 legal professionals volunteer to serve as judges, competition coordinators and team advisors. Mock Trial is designed to educate students about the rights and responsibilities of citizens. Students also develop critical thinking, reading, writing, public speaking, and listening skills.
The 2017 State Champion will represent Ohio at the National High School Mock Trial Championship in Hartford, Connecticut May 11-13.