TEENS TAKING OVER COURT: They will examine the evidence in trial for the murder of an elderly woman allegedly killed by a nephew. They will present evidence, question witnesses, and try to piece together the felonious puzzle — prosecutors on one side, defense on the other.
Then they’ll go home and hang out, Tweet each other, do things teenagers usually do.
“The kids are very excited about this, they’re really getting into it,” said Michael Linane, who with fellow law teacher Geoff White at Old Rochester Regional High School in Mattapoisett, is co-adviser to the school’s first mock trial program.
It came about quickly. Linane came to the district from Melrose, where he was mock trail co-adviser, and talked to White about the possibility of creating a team at ORR High. Neither is a lawyer.
“I thought it would be cool, so we checked to see if there was any interest,” Linane said, and finding it among students, they met with the group in October. By November, training was under way with 13 mock-trial team members.
The Massachusetts Bar Association sponsors the statewide event, distributing mock cases to participating schools and alternating yearly between civil and criminal cases. The murder scenario has the team split into prosecution and defense, examining evidence, affidavits, police reports, medical analyses, as real lawyers would do.
There is no jury, just a volunteer lawyer acting as judge. ORR’s first mock trail is Jan. 22 in Fall River District Court, where Linane said, “they’re good about squeezing us in, I mean it’s a real courthouse with real trials going on.”
The season ends Feb. 7, with successful teams going to regionals, states, and then finals, he said. Spectators are allowed at trials, Linane said, adding that while he was in Melrose, he often saw parents come to watch their children in competition.
“A lot of kids expressed an interest in going into criminal justice or the legal field, and this is a great experience,” Linane said. “A fake experience, sure, but still a great experience.”
The best part is watching kids tackle the project, he said.
“I like seeing the kids work together. One kid will say one thing, another says something else, and they all build on that, it’s very much a team approach,” Linane said.
The program is popular in many area schools. In 2007, the team from Sharon High School won the state finals, going on to finish seventh in a national competition.
Though this is ORR’s inaugural season in the mock trial program, Linane said he doesn’t think it will be the last.
“We have all different kids, four freshmen, some sophomores, juniors, seniors,” he said. “I can see this continuing for years to come.”
The team members are Emily Audet, Elizabeth King, Tim Gonsalves, Zenobia Nelles, Ian MacLellan, Dan Donohue, Josh Bardwell, Leah Thomas, Nick Bergstein, Adam Costa, Ben Bradford, John Hewitt, and Anne Henshaw.
For information on the program, visit mocktrial.massbar.org. To contact Linane or White for information, or to make donations to defray the team’s travel costs, e-mail them at email@example.com. edu and firstname.lastname@example.org.
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Kristin Hostetter Pandit (inset) of Milton, gear editor for Backpacker Magazine, won a national book award for her guide to outdoor gear, maintenance, and repair. “Backpacker Magazine’s Complete Guide to Outdoor Gear Maintenance and Repair” is about repairing of all sorts of equipment, she said, including boots, packs, sleeping bags and stoves, adding “there’s also a special chapter on what can be done with duct tape.” The award was given in the national organization’s instructional category. Hostetter Pandit has been with the magazine since 1994, and has appeared as a gear expert on a such television programs as the “Today” show, “The Early Show,” and “The Martha Stewart Show.”
Alexis B. Levitt (inset), founder of the Law Offices of Alexis Levitt in Hingham, was reelected to the board of directors of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. She has been practicing in the fields of elder law, special needs planning, estate planning, and veterans’ benefits for more than eight years.
Norton-based Miller Construction Co. won the Silver Contractor of the Year award from the Eastern Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, for its renovation last year of a 1970s-era kitchen in a Mansfield home. The award was under the category of “Kitchen Remodel Under $50,000.” David Miller owns the company, which has in recent years earned other national and regional remodeling awards.Continued...