Discovering Justice kicked off its 21st season of its Mock Trial Program this week with a record 30 teams of middle schoolers set to tackle the complex intricacies of the Fourth Amendment.
This record number of teams from 13 cities and towns are headlined by Discovering Justice’s expanding partnership with Springfield Public Schools and Providence Public Schools, the organization’s first ever out-of-state team from Rhode Island.
“We are partnering with more teams and in more places than ever before,” explained Luke Matys, Discovering Justice’s Mock Trial Program Manager. “This fall’s highlight is our growing participation in Springfield and our new partnership in Providence.”
This year’s case is based on the 1985 Supreme Court Case, New Jersey v. TLO, which set the precedent for students’ Fourth Amendment Rights (search and seizure) in public schools. The case involves a school principal finding more than they expected when searching a suspected student bully’s cell phone.
“It is exciting to work with new school systems and legal mentors and expand our impact to more than 400 middle school students this fall,” said Matys. “With more than 120 volunteer legal mentors and 30 teacher coordinators, we have a talented team to help students learn about the workings of the judicial process and prepare their cases for trial in December. ”
Last year, Discovering Justice was written into Springfield Public School’s budget to bring the organization’s programming, including Mock Trial and Mock Appeal, to more Springfield students than previous years. This fall, four middle schools will be running the Mock Trial Program in Springfield: Duggan Academy, Springfield Conservatory of the Arts, STEM Middle Academy, and Springfield Renaissance School. We are partnering with legal professionals from Springfield including: MassMutual, CPCS Youth Advocacy Division Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, Bulkley Richardson, the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, and Connor & Morneau, LLP.
Adding to the record number of teams, the organization is running its first ever mock trial team from Rhode Island. The Providence-based group partners Nathan Bishop Middle School with the US Attorney’s Office in Rhode Island.