Starting last week and continuing this week, twenty-six mock appeal teams of Massachusetts middle school students will present their Fourth Amendment cases in front of a panel of judges and attorneys with their friends and family in the audience.
Grappling with the complexities of a case addressing the legal limits of a public school’s ability to search a student’s electronic devices, student attorneys are delivering oral arguments and fielding panelists’ questions – a difficult task for even the most experienced lawyer. In many cases, the panels have been divided on whether to side with the petitioner or the respondent, a telling sign that both sides were balanced in their presentations and theory of the case.
“Balancing students’ rights online with their safety in schools is an incredibly timely challenge. Our students start the program feeling very passionately about one of the two sides of the issue but over the course of the program they realize just how complicated and hard it is to figure out what is just,” said Mock Appeal Program Manager Luke Matys.
“These events are not only an opportunity for students to explore the topic, but they also allow students to gain the type of confidence you can really gain when answering questions from a federal or state judge,” added Matys.
Working with courthouse staff, Discovering Justice is hosting ten Mock Appeal Events with more than 600 attendees at nine courthouses across the Commonwealth and one in Rhode Island for a Providence middle school. We appreciate the Moakley Courthouse, the Lowell Justice Center, the Providence Federal Courthouse, the Donohue Federal Building and US Courthouse in Worcester, the Framingham District Court, the Springfield Federal Courthouse, the Brockton District Court, the New Bedford Superior Court, and the Brookline District Court for opening their doors and supporting these events.
If you’d like to support our student attorneys by attending one of our Mock Appeal events over the next two weeks, RSVP here.