Post date: April 23, 2002 -- 9 a.m.
As part of the Kids in the Court program, more than 200 local middle school students will argue legal cases on Wednesday, April 24 before a moot court composed of Harvard Law School students and professors.
The mock trials are the culmination of a seven-week curriculum in legal rights, lawmaking, and trial procedure. Kids in the Court, a student-run organization at Harvard Law School, expanded this year to partner with ten seventh- and eighth-grade classes at six Cambridge public schools: Agassiz, Fitzgerald, Kennedy, Longfellow, Morse, and Peabody. The program sent teams of between three and five law students into each class to teach a weekly lesson during regular class time.
"It's thrilling to hear the students' fresh perspectives on some of the most complicated legal issues," said Harvard Law student Karen Abravanel, a co-director of Kids in the Court. "They are extremely excited about arguing their case before a judge and jurors."
This year's mock trial case involves a fictional lawsuit brought against a local school system by the parents of a high school girl who has been refused a tryout for the boys' soccer team. To introduce students to the underlying issues of the case, the first set of lessons discussed the law of equal protection and Title IX.
Each class was then assigned a side in the mock trial, and each participant assumed a role, either as a witness or attorney. Kids in the Court teachers coached the participants in developing legal arguments, preparing opening and closing statements, and structuring questions for the witnesses.
During the five separate mock trials, to be held in the Law School's Ames and Morgan courtrooms, professors will preside as judges and other law students will serve as jurors. Trials will run from 10 to 11:15 a.m. and 12:15 to 1:30 p.m., with a pizza lunch for all participants served in between.