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 lmatys@discoveringjustice.org

Read More
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.

Read More

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. 

Read More

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. 

Read More

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.

Read More
Photo/Reba Saldanha  June 17, 2020

Mock Trial Program October Newsletter

Welcome to our Discovering Justice Mock Trial Newsletter! Even in this challenging and uncertain time of COVID19, our Fall 2020 semester kicked off to a great virtual start! Discovering Justice has been thrilled with the level of enthusiasm, ingenuity, and adaptability of our legal mentors, students, and teachers this semester. 

Moving forward, these newsletters are designed to bring our Discovering Justice Mock Trial community together by highlighting participants, showcasing bright spots, impactful work, and serving as a central location for important news, tips, and strategies for our teams to excel!

Updates

Over the past three weeks, we have asyconystly begun our programming across the Commonwealth with teams in Boston, Somerville, Waltham, and Lowell. Here is a list of our Mock Trial Teams (school & legal partner) for Fall 2020!


Program Highlight

The Mock Trial Program aims to bring these four values to life through an engaging curriculum delivered by our wonderful legal mentors. We will highlight the four values throughout the Fall. 

One transferable skill we hope our students gain from our program is the ability to see multiple perspectives and develop and make an argument for any side.

Our organization holds perspective taking in high regard for our students in our Mock Trial Program and for everyone in our community as we try to democratically solve our collective problems together. Perspective taking is a necessary skill for us all as community members as we work towards justice.

This week students practiced perspective taking in our “Face Off” activity. Students had 60 seconds to argue their side then switched sides and argue for the opposite side.

One BLS student delivered a skillful and passionate argument about how cats are clearly better than dogs. You wouldn’t know she thought “that was hard because I don’t really like cats at all!”

After participating in this activity, sixth graders from the Tobin School brought up how difficult it must be for lawyers to argue for something that they may not personally believe in order to have a fair trial. The activity was a huge success and a lot of fun!

 

Student Spotlight


Meet Abigail Roskind, a 7th grader at the McDevitt School in Waltham. 

“I joined Discovering Justice because I have been waiting to be a lawyer for a really long time and this was my chance to finally see what that would be like. My favorite part of this program so far has been meeting all of these new people and getting an inside view of how our justice system works.”

Tips / Strategies for Teams:

  • Assign a timekeeper: The Mintz legal team did an excellent job with pacing the session by assigning one member the role of timekeeper to ensure they were able to cover everything in the session!
  • The Chat: Interacting with students over the chat is an easy way to keep the class engaged and help shyer student voices to be heard. One group implemented a community standard of typing an exclamation mark in the chat when students hear something they agree with, or typing a smiley face to show understanding of a topic before moving on. The McDevitt Team has students type an exclamation point when they want to share something out loud, and has found it helpful to assign one legal mentor the role of monitoring and responding to students in the chat.

  • Tips / Strategies for Teams:


    • Assign a timekeeper: The Mintz legal team did an excellent job with pacing the session by assigning one member the role of timekeeper to ensure they were able to cover everything in the session!

    • The Chat: Interacting with students over the chat is an easy way to keep the class engaged and help shyer student voices to be heard. One group implemented a community standard of typing an exclamation mark in the chat when students hear something they agree with, or typing a smiley face to show understanding of a topic before moving on. The McDevitt Team has students type an exclamation point when they want to share something out loud, and has found it helpful to assign one legal mentor the role of monitoring and responding to students in the chat.

    • Team communication: A consistent theme of a successful team of legal mentors and the school’s teacher has been communication. It is vital to share all instructions among your group of legal mentors so that all activities and breakout rooms are carried out effectively and timely.

    Message from the Mock Trial Program Manager

    Hello everyone and welcome to the Mock Trial Program Newsletter! 

    I am extremely proud of the work being done by our partners – the law firms and schools that make this program possible, and the individual legal mentors and teacher leaders who show up every week for their students! We are grateful to have many returning legal mentors and schools this semester. I also want to welcome our new legal mentors and new students teams to our program. Our new legal mentors include Boston University Law School and Committee for Public Counsel Services (Lowell). I am also happy to welcome three new schools to our program: McDevitt Middle School, Butler Middle School, and James Sullivan Middle School. 

    DJ’s program team has done a wonderful amount of work this summer to make sure our Mock Trial Program could be accessible to teams across the Commonwealth during COVID-19 by moving our curriculum online with engaging activities and lessons. We are proud of our updated virtual materials and are impressed with the legal mentors for jumping in feet first!

    We are excited about the new cases we are offering this fall. Built around the First Amendment, these cases have students investigate the intersection of free speech and cyberbullying, the tension of a school newspaper’s desire to uncover a groundbreaking scandal and a school administration’s desire to protect the privacy of their students, and what messages can and cannot be worn during a school day. I want to give a huge shout-out to our friends at Liberty Mutual and WilmerHale for helping us create these new cases.

    Last, but certainly not least, welcome Discovering Justice’s Mock Trial fellow, Alzeta Wilson to our team! She will be supporting our teams week to week and revising and updating our material as we prepare for the Spring! She is a great educator and we are lucky to have her on our team!

    Hope to see you in a virtual Mock Trial Session soon!

    Luke Matys

    Discovering Justice

    Senior Education Associate

    Mock Trial Program Manager

Read More

let's stay in touch

All our latest news delivered to your inbox a few times a month.