What a new and enjoyable experience it was to participate as a volunteer judge for the Cleveland Mock Trial! I arrived early in the morning and went through security at the Cleveland Justice Center. I was greeted by a smiling Jessica Paine. Jessica is an accomplished organizer, working at the CMBA, and I am continually impressed by her ability to accomplish everything necessary with a big smile and a positivity that never falters. I was assigned to courtroom 14A. As I walked in and the lights illuminated the courtroom, I was transformed into an officer of the court. Working around the legal field in the capacity of litigation support often puts me near and around the law, but not directly submerged into the role of official representative. As I waited patiently for the competitors and the other judges to arrive, I’m not going to lie, I imagined myself as a player in a television courtroom drama fighting for the rights of the victim! I was snapped out of it as the high school students entered the courtroom, bustling with the excitement and pre-“trial” jitters of the competition that they were about to participate in. One team was from Martin Luther King Jr. High School, and they were competing against The Cleveland School of Science and Medicine. I went behind the courtroom to meet the judges that I would be participating with. I had the privilege of judging the competition with the honorable Lauren C. Moore, a judge at the Cleveland Municipal Court and her son, Brian Siggers, a law student at Case Western Reserve. Judge Moore is the coordinator of the event, and she writes the cases that are to be presented during the Mock Trial Competition. She went into the courtroom and introduced us to all of the students, then the students came back into her chambers for a short introduction, briefing and discussion. They were dismissed back to the courtroom and got ready for competition. I was as excited as they were because I was able to share the judge’s bench with Judge Moore and Mr. Siggers. I much better understand the saying “view from the bench”. The students each presented their side of the case. The prosecution called their direct witnesses, the defense cross-examined. The defense called their witnesses and the prosecution cross-examined. The students were eager and well prepared. They had sensible objections that were ruled on by Judge Moore. She explained each ruling kindly and enthusiastically encouraged more objections and participation from each side. After both sides presented their opening statements, witnesses, and closing arguments, our judging panel retired to tally up our scores. The participants were scored on a variety of categories, and an outstanding attorney and witness were chosen. We went back into the courtroom to deliver the news. Judge Moore gave each team praise and constructive criticism to help them do even better in the next round of the competition. Watching the students’ hard work and preparation in action was fantastic. They really got into their roles (they made T-shirts and wore costumes to support their characters). To deliver an age-old cliché, they were all winners in my book! Judge Moore’s enthusiasm and positivity were contagious throughout the proceedings. Also, the hard work of entire Cleveland Justice Center staff should be well noted, as they had to bear the load of logistics throughout the day for 10 different high school teams, all while making sure the rest of the courthouse ran safely and smoothly with the regular business of the day. Overall, the experience was one that I cannot wait to repeat. You never know what value volunteering will bring you, for me personally, this one brought knowledge, experience, and joy. I greatly encourage anyone thinking about volunteering to do so without hesitation. To quote Gandhi, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”.
To find out more about volunteering with the CMBA, contact Jessica Paine (she’s awesome!).
Participating schools for the Cleveland Mock Trial Competition 2016:
- Facing History
- Ginn Academy
- Jane Addams
- John Adams
- John Hay Early College
- John Hay Science & Medicine
- New Tech West
- Whitney Young
this article was written by Michelle Cady-Cook. She is the Director of Marketing and part owner of Cady Reporting (a WBENC company). She is a sustaining member of the Cleveland Association of Paralegal and is currently serving as Chair of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association Green Initiative Committee and Chair of the Follow Up Committee for the National Network of Reporting Companies (NNRC). She has been officially involved in the legal community for over 10 years. Within the framework of Cady Reporting Services, she partners with locally owned court reporting firms across the country to continually improve the practice of litigation.
Cady Reporting Services is located at 1468 W. 9th St. Cleveland, OH 44113. Our court reporters and videographers personally serve the state of Ohio, and we daily schedule court reporters and other litigation support services through our partners in the NNRC. The National Network of Reporting Companies is your personal connection to coverage wherever and whenever you need it.