SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Teams from 46 high schools statewide will participate in the 27th annual Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) High School Mock Trial Invitational Friday and Saturday, March 20 and 21, 2009, at the University of Illinois at Springfield, Public Affairs Center – Lower Level.
The eight top-scoring teams will compete in the final round on Saturday, March 21, for the state championship. The winner will represent Illinois at the National High School Mock Trial Championship in Atlanta, Georgia, May 6-10, 2009. [The trials will begin Friday, March 20, at 11:15 a.m. and will continue through Saturday afternoon. The final round will begin at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 21].
“The mock trial program is a rare opportunity for Illinois high school students to compete in a high-level academic endeavor,” says Judge John Coady, chair of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Law-Related Education for the Public, which conducts the program.
“Students must analyze complex information, apply logic and deductive reasoning, communicate effectively, and use other critical thinking skills in the trial scenario,” he continued. “The ISBA offers this opportunity for the students to come together, after months of hard work and preparation, to challenge each other and stimulate discussion.”
Each 10-member team tries both sides – plaintiff and defense – of a case developed by the ISBA Standing Committee on Law-Related Education for the Public. This year, the case involves one of Abraham Lincoln’s most well-known murder trials, the so-called Almanac Trial. A witness for the prosecution swore he had witnessed an argument between the dead man and the accused under a full moon. Lincoln used a Farmer’s Almanac to discredit the witness, showing that at the time of the argument, the moon had already set. The students will need to use all the facts available to prove the guilt or innocence of the defendant on those facts, without the use of an Almanac.
Students will assume the roles of attorneys and witnesses, and a panel of Illinois lawyers and judges, along with members of the ISBA Law-Related Education Committee, will rate the students' performance. The students must also take a written test about the issues of the case and basic legal principles.
The high school mock trials have been conducted each year since 1982 by the Illinois State Bar Association to provide Illinois high school students an interesting and challenging way to gain insight into the American judicial system.
The 35,000 member ISBA, with offices in Springfield and Chicago, provides professional services to Illinois member attorneys, and education to the public.