Community Support Overflows for Mock Trial Students at Final Events

A record number of 29 middle school teams presented their Fourth Amendment cases at Discovering Justice’s Mock Trial events this past week, arguing the complicated line between personal privacy and public safety.

In a six-day stretch, Discovering Justice hosted in-person events in ten Massachusetts cities (and the organization’s first out-of-state team from Providence) before juries of community members as well as presiding federal and state judges. The events welcomed more than 350 students, 130 legal mentors, 29 judges, 32 teacher coordinators, and more than 300 jurors into the eleven different courthouses.

Mock Trial night at the Moakley Courthouse featured eleven mock trials with students from Boston, Brookline, Medford, and Waltham and more than 400 attendees, including many proud family members.

“The students did an incredible job wrestling with this complex issue and the path to justice on the case,” said Luke Matys, Discovering Justice Mock Trial Program Manager. “It was inspiring to see all the families, legal mentor volunteers, courthouse staff, school staff, and community leaders participate to support the students and the program.”

“It was a really good experience that I’ll definitely remember,” said Maia Bickford-Loy, a seventh grader from Worcester’s Sullivan Middle School. “It was something that can help me with my confidence in the future.”

Discovering Justice hosted the in-person events at courthouses for teams in the cities and towns of Boston, Brockton, Brookline, Douglas, Framingham, Lowell, Medford, Pittsfield, Providence, South Hadley, Springfield, Waltham, and Worcester.

The students tackled a case based on the 1985 Supreme Court Case, New Jersey v. T.L.O., which set the precedent for students’ Fourth Amendment Rights around search and seizure issues in public schools. This case, which involved the seizure of a student’s computer and cell phone, highlighted the tension between the right to privacy, a central right protected by the Constitution, and the need for public safety.

“Discovering Justice is dedicated to bringing together lawyers, teachers, students, and judges to do something powerful,” described Matys. “At the events, the student attorneys’ youth took center stage, discussed the complex issue of justice, and used their voices to advocate for it.”

You can read more about the Pittsfield Event in the Berkshire Eagle and about the Worcester event in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette.

If you are a legal professional, school leader, teacher, or parent interested in engaging in Discovering Justice’s Mock Appeal Program this Spring, please contact Malia Brooks at

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Bill of Rights Student Essay Contest – Cash Prizes!

If you could add an amendment to the Bill of Rights, what right would you protect and why?

The U.S. District Court for the District Court of Massachusetts, Discovering Justice, and the Massachusetts Chapter of the Federal Bar Association encourage high school students in Boston, Worcester, and Springfield to participate in their annual Bill of Rights Student Essay Contest.

The essay contest asks Boston, Worcester, and Springfield high school students to answer this question in 550 words or less, “If you could add an amendment to the Bill of Rights, what right would you protect and why?”

A panel of federal judges will select the top essays and award cash prizes totaling $1,000 for first, second, and third place.

The deadline for the essay submission is January 31, 2023. You can submit your essay here. Visit here to find out more details about the contest.

A hybrid (in person/virtual) public event to celebrate the essay finalists and ALL students who participated in this contest will be held in February 2023. All school, family, and community members will be welcome.

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Kayla Nordman

Kayla Nordman believes strongly in expanding access to comprehensive civic education to provide the next generation with the resources they need to uphold and expand upon the values of American democracy and create a more equitable future. Before joining Discovering Justice, she worked as a Legislative Intern at the Massachusetts State House and as a Program Manager for the Massachusetts Center for Civic Education. Kayla graduated from Suffolk University with a BA in International Relations.