Category: News

Record Number of Teams Turn Out for Spring Mock Appeal Program

With a record number 22 teams participating, Discovering Justice’s Mock Appeal Program kicked off its spring program the week of March 8th. 

The Mock Appeal Program, formerly known as Stand Up for Your Rights, follows a similar structure to Discovering Justice’s Mock Trial Program. Through weekly 90-minute sessions with legal mentors over a course of 11 weeks, students transform into appellate attorneys and conclude the program by presenting oral arguments in front of a panel of federal and state judges and senior attorneys. 

This spring’s teams are from the communities of Boston, Brookline, Danvers, Framingham, Lawrence, Lowell, Rehoboth, Somerville, Waltham, and Worcester. The program is supported by more than 70 legal mentors, the most ever engaged in a Discovering Justice program.The legal mentors are  current and former members of private law firms, in-house lawyers, district attorneys, law students,  and public defenders.

If you are interested in learning more about our Mock Appeal or Mock Trial Program, their mentorship opportunities, or are interested in getting your school or firm involved next fall, please email Program Coordinator, Luke Matys, at

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Photo/Reba Saldanha  Discovering Justice Mock Trials December 10, 2019

Mock Trial Program Concludes with 12 Virtual Trials

Presenting in front of federal and state judges, middle school students from Discovering Justice’s Mock Trial Program questioned witnesses and delivered detailed opening and closing arguments in cases concerning free speech and the First Amendment. The trials, held before juries of public officials, legal professionals, and local residents, culminated an 11-week program during which students met with legal mentors who taught the students the workings of the justice system, discussed the ideals of justice, and prepared them for their trials.

Last fall’s program was done virtually, a challenge for the more than 130 students and 60 legal mentors who participated in the program.. “It was a pleasure to watch teams grow a sense of comradery despite never meeting in person. This teamwork allowed them to build important civic knowledge and skills,” said Luke Matys, the coordinator of the Mock Trial Program.

More than 450 people attended the twelve trials which showcased students from middle schools in Boston, Lowell, Waltham, and Somerville. 

“Iti is so different from school. It’s a refreshing change from everything that is happening. . If you were ever wondering that you may want to be a lawyer — just try it.There will never be a more supportive group.”commented Abbie Roskind, an 8th grader from McDevitt Middle School in Waltham.

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You Came Back to School to Strengthen Our Democracy And We Are Grateful

We weren’t sure that you’d come or if you did, that you would stay. But you came and you stayed! 

More than 200 guests were in virtual attendance on October 15th at Discovering Justice’s 2020 Gala: Back to School; Strengthening our Democracy. Attendees got to hear from students, teachers, lawyers and staff about how the organization is updating and strengthening its programs during the pandemic. After seven months of COVID isolation, seeing all of the faces and reading the comments in the Zoom chat reminded us of why we do our work and how much we appreciate and miss in the Discovering Justice community. 

Thank you to all who attended and helped make Discovering Justice’s Fall Virtual Gala a great success. Your support and participation are what make our programs successful. If you were unable to attend, it’s not too late to experience the magic of the evening. 

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Discovering Justice’s Online Courthouse Tour To Launch in 2021

Discovering Justice staff and Fellows are working to digitally reopen the doors of the Moakley Federal Courthouse through a new digital exhibition exploring the architectural symbols of democratic values found throughout the Courthouse in Boston. 

The Courthouse Tours are Discovering Justice’s longest-running program, but due to restrictions around COVID -19, we’ve had to get creative about how to share this civic space with members of our community. The upcoming tour exhibition “We the People of the Courthouse” will explore the connections between different spaces in the Moakley Courthouse, and the civic ideals they represent. 

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Mock Trials Wrap Up Fall Semester

Finishing up ten weeks of the workings of the judicial system, analyzing cases, and developing arguments to present a 1st Amendment case, middle school students in 12 different middle schools from Boston to Lowell are ready for their Mock Trial. 

This year’s Mock Trial culminating events will be different. In past years, each of the teams had the opportunity to present their work to a state or federal judge, a clerk, a jury of volunteers and an audience of families and friends at the Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston. Yet this year, the Mock Trials will be held completely online and be scheduled with each individual team in mind, rather than one event with all the teams together at the Courthouse. Although the venue has changed, the online events will work to capture the same sense of community and fantastic energy of the in-person events..

Eleven mock trials are scheduled from December 15th to December 21st. During the virtual Mock Trial, teams of students will be presenting their case over Zoom, before a judge, a clerk, an audience of family members, teachers, civic leaders, and a jury of community members! If you would like to watch a Mock Trial, sign up here. And feel free to watch a video of Judge Nathaniel Gorton prepping our jurors for their roles, 

If you are interested in being part of the experience as a volunteer juror, click here to see the schedule and register to sit on a jury and render a verdict. Please register by Wednesday, December 9th. To learn more about what to expect from your experience serving on a Discovering Justice Mock Trial jury, please watch the following message from federal Judge and friend of DJ: Judge Nathaniel Gorton.

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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.