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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.