Mock Trial & Mock Appeal Program

  • Mock Trial & Mock Appeal Program

Mock Trial & Mock Appeal Program: Grades 6-8

Discovering Justice’s Mock Trial and Mock Appeal Programs pair middle school students with legal professionals to explore the judicial system, analyze a legal case, and practice the civic skills needed to persuasively argue cases. Through these engaging, supportive weekly sessions, student attorneys develop the confidence and vital civic skills like perspective taking, critical thinking, writing, and civil discourse necessary to become leaders in their communities. This semester-long program culminates with students presenting their case before a real judge and jury of community members for Mock Trial and panel of judges for Mock Appeal.

Video courtesy of NBC10 Boston.

Fall Mock Trial

10 Weeks (September-December)

•Learn about the judicial system and explore a constitutional case
•Examine and question witnesses
•Try a case before a federal or state judge and jury of community members

Spring Mock Appeal

11 Weeks (March-June)

•Dive deeper into the judicial system and real constitutional issues
•Build oral arguments to argue and defend in front of a panel of judges

What’s New

Discovering Justice and our legal mentors are excited to introduce the new case for the 2023-2024 school year. The case features student ‘Jordan King’, who is suing her school for violating her First Amendment rights. 

Through her environmental science class assignment to raise awareness about climate issues; Granger High School student Jordan King used TikTok to call out students contributing to climate change. In her first video, Jordan called out an unnamed student for not recycling, causing the student, Mel Lee to complain to Principal Smith about bullying. Principal Smith ordered Jordan to remove the video and stop her TikTok campaign or face suspension.  Jordan refused, leading to her suspension and the subsequent lawsuit against the high school, alleging a First Amendment rights violation. 

Students will use the precedent of previous Supreme Court cases such as Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. (2021) and Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969) in their preparation for this Mock Trial. 

Frequently Asked Questions

For Schools and Families

Discovering Justice’s Mock Trial & Mock Appeal Program is available to middle schools (grade 6-8) throughout Massachusetts. To find out more about organizing a team for your school, contact Mock Trial & Mock Appeal Program Manager Kiley Hartman at

Both the Mock Trial Program and the Mock Appeal Program are designed for middle school students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. The Mock Appeal Program is slightly more academically rigorous than the Mock Trial Program and is better suited for 7th and 8th graders.

There are no prerequisites to participate in either program. Although there is continuity between the Fall Mock Trial Program and the Spring Mock Appeal as they use the same case, both programs are designed to be engaging and inclusive for all students regardless of whether or not they have participated in our programs before.

The Mock Trial Program runs for ten weeks during the fall school semester, typically beginning in September and ending after Thanksgiving, with culminating trial events occuring in December.
The Mock Appeal Program runs for eleven weeks during the spring school semester, starting in March and ending in late May or early June. Throughout both programs, 90 minute sessions are conducted on a weekly basis as teams prepare to argue their cases before a judge and jury or, for the Appeal, in front of a panel of three volunteer judges.

Sessions happen once a week after school. The time of the 90 minute session depends on the preferences of the school and volunteers. Students should participate in every session and attend the final event.
Teacher Coordinators are required to attend an orientation at the beginning of the semester, attend every session, and be present and help coordinate the final event. While they do not facilitate the sessions, teacher coordinators are required to be active participants in coordinating logistics, communicating with parents and the school, and supporting legal mentors when necessary.

For Legal Mentors

For more information about volunteer opportunities, please visit the Legal Mentors page, or reach out to Mock Trial & Mock Appeal Program Manager Kiley Hartman at

The ideal team of legal mentors for our after school programs consists of three to six legal professionals. Volunteers can be attorneys of professional background, paralegals, law clerks, law librarians, law students, courthouse translators, and any other type of legal professional. Volunteers do not have to be experts on the particular laws of the case and do not have to be a trial or appellate attorney to volunteer for either program.

Legal mentors are required to be CORI checked, attend a one-two hour orientation, facilitate the weekly sessions, and be in attendance at the final Mock Trial or Mock Appeal event. Fact patterns, lesson plans, material, and presentations are provided by Discovering Justice. Legal mentors are encouraged to prepare for each session beforehand with their group and slightly modify the provided presentations to fit the needs of their group. Attendance at every session is highly encouraged but not required by every individual volunteer, but we require at least two volunteers present at each session. Please coordinate with other legal mentors on your team if you know you will be missing a session.

Chetna Gandhi

8th Grade student, JFK Middle School 

“Discovering Justice deepened my understanding of civics and government. The things I learned here helped me understand my classes—and that felt like it gave me the edge up in class, and in life.”

Siri Carr

8th grade ELA teacher, Brooke Charter School

“In Discovering Justice, kids are learning to believe in themselves, and become more confident. I’ve seen the power of my students getting to apply the skills they’re learning—and making those real world connections is so important.”

Masiah Nieves

8th grade student, Robinson Middle School

“During my four years doing Discovering Justice, I’ve made a lot of memories, and now I’ve found something I’m interested in, and something I’m really passionate about.”

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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.