Cleveland Mock Trial
Important message from the CMBA (March 16, 2020)
To all Cleveland Mock Trial volunteers and supporters:
As you know, COVID-19 is causing disruption to schools and public institutions, which are temporarily shutting down to minimize the spread of the virus. Both the Cleveland and East Cleveland schools have announced temporary shut-downs in response to Ohio Gov. DeWine’s call for closure for at minimum three weeks starting Monday, March 16. Similarly, the CMBA will be operating mostly from outside of our offices from March 16-April 3 with staff working remotely and accessible by phone and email.
With the drastically reduced amount of in-school time and other demands on teachers’ resources, the CMBA, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, and the Cleveland Municipal Court have made the sad but necessary decision to cancel the 2020 Cleveland Mock Trial Competition on May 8. This venerable program, now in its 24th year, has been a highlight of Law Day celebrations each spring and a valued partnership between the Bar, the schools, and the court.
We are looking into possible alternatives, such as holding a limited summer competition for year-long schools or holding a makeup competition in the fall. We will keep you posted as our plans develop.
Thank you, sincerely, for your support of the students of Cleveland and East Cleveland schools. We look forward to resuming mock trial and other important law-related programs soon.
About the Cleveland Mock Trial:
“The only exposure I had to the legal field was from television shows such as Law & Order. Mock Trial allowed me to come face to face with the career I have always known I wanted to pursue. For me, Mock Trial was not just a competition in high school. Mock Trial was the most important building block that solidified my passion to pursue law and become a lawyer. Not only did Mock Trial introduce me to mentors and legal professionals, but it also ignited a fire in me that still burns today." --Tiana Bohanon, Cleveland State University Class of 2016
The Cleveland Mock Trial Competition gives Cleveland high school students a chance to prepare their best legal arguments for an exciting day of competition
with their peers each year in the spring. Coached by volunteer attorneys and law students, the teams take turns representing the prosecution and defense in
a criminal appeal, giving them the opportunity both to hone their legal skills and to learn more about important issues facing teens
today. The top attorneys, witness, and essay writer are rewarded with a paid summer internship at the Cleveland Municipal Court.
In years past the topics have included the opioid crisis, police encounters, charges of hazing, driving while texting, bullying, misdemeanor child endangerment, and criminal stalking. The 2019 case featured a hypothetical based on real historic events of great interest to Cleveland students: the trial of Fred Ahmed Evans in the wake of the shootout between political activists and police in the Glenville neighborhood. Students in Glenville High School reviewed and learned about the trial in 2019, the 50th anniversary of the events in question. The case presented an ideal opportunity for learning about criminal procedure, disputes between witnesses and their credibility, and interactions between the public and police, which continues to be a hot button issue today.
Attorneys, judges, and law students are invited to volunteer as coaches and/or judicial panelists for the Cleveland Mock Trial when the competition resumes. Legal coaches visit their assigned classrooms about once a week from March through the competition in early May (3-4 visits total based on volunteers' availability and schedules) to help students understand mock trial basics. Volunteers can also sign up for one or both trials on Competition Day: 9:00-11:00 a.m. or 12:00-2:00 p.m. at the Justice Center in downtown Cleveland. No trial experience necessary, just an enthusiasm for supporting local high school mock trial teams.