Preparation, debate, public speaking and dramatic acting are some of the key skills honed by northeast Denver high school students at the annual Colorado Bar Association’s High School Mock Trial Program. More than 100 high school teams and approximately 1,500 students take part as attorneys and witnesses in the event held annually at the Denver City and County Building. Working in groups, students prepare their case with the assistance of mentors, culminating in a presentation before a judge. Student performances are scored on knowledge, use of the Rules of Evidence, trial procedures, character portrayals, and conviction of argument.
Each year, the Colorado Bar Association creates and releases a case problem. Alternating yearly between civil and criminal cases, students this year were presented with Kyle Roberts v. Productions of THC, Inc., a civil case involving improperly labeled marijuana edibles and the resulting damages sustained by an adult and a child. Each participating team created a case for the prosecution and the defense to establish liability.
Peter Wright, facilitator for the Northfield High School (NHS) team says, “While some of these kids have an interest in the law, others just enjoy the debate and the acting required to play a role.” NHS students received mentoring from Holland & Hart attorneys CiCi Cheng and Tim Gordon. Cheng and Gordon provided professional guidance in preparing their cases, public speaking and “bringing life” to each part they played.
This was the second year the NHS team participated in the program. “They’re excited to get back to work and return next year,” says Wright.
Ashley Pollick, an attorney with Hoffmann, Parker, Wilson & Carberry, P.C., served as a volunteer coach for the Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST) Stapleton. “This year, the complexity of the case was a surprise,” she noted. “There were a lot of layers to this case and the students had to grasp several important legal concepts pertaining to liability law and consumer misuse.”
DSST took two teams to the competition. Their “A” team won second place overall and their “B” team won fourth place honors for professionalism. DSST students, Max Gregg and Ruja Parikh won the Best Witness and Best Attorney awards respectively. “It’s a nice break from my law practice to volunteer with these kids,” says Pollick. “It’s fun to watch them have a creative and enthusiastic learning experience and it gives me a real energy boost.”