When her big moment in Toledo Municipal Court arrived yesterday, Ashley Spaulding was struck with a mild case of courtroom jitters.
The Delta High School student made her debut as a defense attorney in the Ohio Mock Trial competition. She was representing a student at a fictional high school accused of assaulting another student in a religious-hate crime.
School officials, it seemed, had taken a DNA sample from her client, and Miss Spaulding was asking Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge James Bates to throw out the sample because it was taken illegally.
To sharpen her understanding of the case and hone her legal presentation skills, Ashley, a junior, said she talked to a lawyer who practices in her community.
“I have never done this before. I was so nervous. I felt like I couldn't get the words out of my mouth,” she said.
Ashley and her classmates fielded two squads in the competition. Archbold, Notre Dame Academy, Sylvania Northview, Edon, Wauseon, St. Ursula Academy, and Whitmer also participated. Judges and magistrates presided over the court cases, in which students take on the roles of defense attorneys and prosecutors as well as witnesses. They received the case beforehand and must be ready to question witnesses and give opening and closing arguments when they show up in court.
Local lawyers judged the competition, selecting the best student lawyer and witness at each trial. The students' presentations were constructively critiqued after each session.
St. Ursula Academy and Sylvania Northview won the event and will advance to the state finals in Columbus on March 14-16.
Keith Anderson, a government teacher, is the adviser to the 12-member Delta team, which has been in the Mock Trial Program since it began in 1984. “The program gives the students a challenging activity outside of the classroom that they can get involved in,” he said.