Friday, January 18, 2008

How to spend an evening, thanks to Port Townsend High School Mock Trial

Last night, I had one of the most exciting, entertaining evenings I’ve had in a long time. That may be a sorry statement about the level of adventure my evenings typically entail, but I stand by my words. Along with most of the rest of the Jefferson County Bar Association, I spent the evening evaluating a mock trial scrimmage by two teams: Port Townsend High School, my alma mater; and a Wenatchee school. First, I was shocked at the turnout... we had three courtrooms going, and in my courtroom we had eight “jurors” including one amused wife who had been told by her dear husband that they were “going to see a play” that evening. The rest of the jurors were local attorneys. I didn’t do a headcount, but I presume the rest of the courtrooms were equally staffed by local attorneys and members of the bench, based on how crowded the courtroom was with attorneys and judges prior to the start of the scrimmage.

The evening was absolutely fantastic fun. These students did an impressive job -- it’s early in the mock trial season, and they largely had mastered the facts that they need to memorize in order to move to the next step of working through their case “off book.” More than one of the attorney-jurors commented that we wouldn’t want to bump into any of these students as opposing counsel. There was, truly, a tremendous amount of potential in the room on both of the teams. I told my husband during my drive home that I wouldn’t commit to help with all of the scrimmages, but I will definitely make time to do this a few times a year. Aside from being able to help out the mock trial teams, this was a fantastic experience for me as a younger lawyer. I was surprised at how much I’ve learned since my own mock trial days over a decade ago; startled by how much sharper and better-tuned my reflexes felt as I listened to questioning and testimony and my own “objection” reflex kicked in a number of times. Plus, as an attorney, I now know that the jury seats in Jefferson County Superior Court are supremely uncomfortable -- a fact I will definitely remember if I have a jury trial in that courtroom.

In addition to the team students and coaches, it was a huge treat to meet a few more of my Jefferson County colleagues. I have a handful of dear friends in practice in Jefferson, but otherwise most of my practice in Jefferson County historically has been in domestic court so I’ve met only a few of the local attorneys. It was a delight to get a chance to meet a large part of the rest of the Jefferson bar in one congenial, festive evening. If you’re an attorney in practice, give some serious thought to making a date with your local mock trial team -- you will find the time well spent and rewarding.

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