Steubenville High continues in Ohio mock trial competition

STEUBENVILLE – Members of the Steubenville High School mock trial team will move on to the regional competition following a double victory last week at the Columbiana County Courthouse in Lisbon.

Coach and high school teacher Cherie Metcalf said the high school team won both cases during the competition on Friday.

“We will now move on to the regional competition which is set for Feb. 22 at the Summit County Courthouse in Akron,” she said.

“The Ohio Mock Trial Program, established by the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education in 1983, is a statewide educational program designed to allow students to become aware of their constitutional rights and responsibilities. It provides students the opportunity to learn firsthand about the law, court procedures and the judicial system while also building interpretation, critical thinking and public speaking skills. Students who compete in the mock trial program come away with a greater understanding of not only the principles our legal system was founded on, but of themselves and the skills they possess,” explained Metcalf.

“Each year volunteer attorneys write a legally authentic case involving a constitutional issue that is relevant to students’ own personal experiences. Training is offered to teachers to help them use the constitutional case materials in their classrooms and give instruction in methods of preparing students to present mock trials. Teachers have the option of entering a team or teams of five to 11 students in an annual statewide academic competition coordinated by OCLRE,” said Metcalf.

The state competition will be held in Columbus in March. The winner of the state competition then advances to the national competition, which is held in late spring.

According to Metcalf, every team presents their case once as the plaintiff or prosecution and once as the defense. Two attorneys, two witnesses and one bailiff-timekeeper will compete for each team in each trial. The competition is governed by a modified version of the Ohio Rules of Evidence and the Mock Trial Rules of Competition.

“Our case was the State of Ohio vs. Dakota Allen, a high school sophomore who was suspected of setting a fire at the school that resulted in the death of a maintenance worker. The police then engage in a lengthy interrogation process that involves driving to the scene of the crime and the victim’s home as well as various interrogation techniques. Late in the day, the defendant makes a statement claiming responsibility for the fire and is subsequently charged with murder and arson. However, the defendant later recants the confession. The defendant has alleged that the statements were improperly coerced by the police in violation of the 5th and 14th Amendments and filed a motion to suppress,” noted Metcalf.

“The Steubenville High School Mock Trial team won all possible awards. The best defense attorney went to Allie Zimish, and the best defense witness was Nicole Prichard. The best prosecution attorney was Alex Isla, and the best prosecution witness was Serena Lewis,” Metcalf said.

“Special thanks goes to Judge David Scarpone for his legal guidance and assistance in preparation of our case,” Metcalf added.