Ohio Middle School Mock Trial
Plans for the 2020 Program Year
As we prepare to return to school this year, we know that many of you are entering classrooms (virtual and otherwise) that will look quite different. Here at OCLRE, we are working hard to make sure that we can offer your students the most authentic experience possible while following the best guidance available for safety.
OCLRE needs your help in making plans for the upcoming program year that reflect and respond to the realities that you and your students face. We would greatly appreciate your participation in a very brief survey, which will be used to inform planning for the upcoming year. You can access the survey here: https://bit.ly/OCLRE2020Survey
About Middle School Mock Trial
Combine middle school students' love of argument with a love of good literature. Middle School Mock Trial cases are literature-based, with cases constructed from books most commonly read in the middle grades. Students learn first-hand about the law, court procedures, and the judicial system while also building critical 21st-century skills.
Middle School Mock Trial cases are based on popular literature, written by teams of teachers and lawyers. Middle school students act as witnesses and attorneys to argue cases involving their favorite characters. The program was designed with Ohio’s Learning Standards for social studies and English/language arts in mind and is ideal for interdisciplinary teaching. Students read and analyze witness statements drawn from the characters in the books. Students then work collaboratively to develop arguments for both sides and develop strategies to question the witnesses.
OCLRE Mock Trial provides the opportunity for students to put together a coherent argument for their side of the case using furnished testimonial and physical evidence. The comprehensive approach includes reading a case summary, trial briefs, and witness statements.
Middle School Mock Trial has cases based on books commonly read at the middle school level. OCLRE chooses one case to be the featured case at the State Showcase.
For questions, contact Danielle Wilmot at firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-485-3507
"Mock Trial teaches students so much more than the legal process. They develop teamwork strategies, critical thinking skills, and so much more. The sense of accomplishment is overwhelming after they complete a trial.” ~ Amy Huber, Ridgeview Middle School
“This is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about the legal system and to find their voices.” ~ Christine Spinner, St. Hilary School
“Middle School Mock Trial benefits the students by improving their speaking skills and helping students overcome the fear of public speaking. It encourages students to think outside the box and dive into subject matter that is not always familiar to them.” ~ Vicky Potter, Danville Middle School
“The growth you will see in the children is well worth it!” ~Mehgan Lucas, Trellis Academy
“It is a great, self-motivated chance for students to focus on presentation skills.” ~ Drew Farrell, Genoa Middle School
“It’s a fun, unique way to expose kids to the law. It involves public speaking and thinking on your feet. I would encourage teachers to try it!” ~ Lisa Koo, Shalom Christian Academy
Mock Trial Case
Coming Soon! The 2020-2021 Middle School Mock Trial showcase piece will be announced at the Mock Trial Conference on September 30. The conference will be held virtually via Zoom. For more details regarding the Mock Trial Conference, please visit our Professional Development page HERE.
Pre-order your case file: Middle School Mock Trial Order Form
Attendees of the Virtual Mock Trial Conference will receive their digital case file on September 30. All other cases will be sent the following Wednesday, October 7.
Case Materials Cost
2 cases (each)
3+ cases (each)
Questions? Contact Program Coordinator, Danielle Wilmot at email@example.com, 614.485.3507.
Not a member yet? You can easily join while registering for any OCLRE program!
Additional Middle School Mock Trial Cases
OCLRE offers 12 cases based on books commonly read at the Middle School level. Any of these cases can be used in the classroom as a complement when educators might teach the book as part of the class.
OCLRE rotates one case each year to be the featured State Showcase piece. If you plan on attending the Showcase, make sure you purchase the featured case for that year.
To order this year's case or any of our other Middle School Mock Trial cases Case Material Order Form:
- State of Texas v. Walker, based on Holes, Louis Sachar
- State of Mississippi v. T.J. Avery, based on Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
- British Crown v. Johnny Tremain, based on Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
- The Community v. Jaden, based on The Giver by Lois Lowry
- State of Ohio v. Frankie Hunter, based on Lord of the Flies by William Golding
- Benjamin et al. v. Napoleon et al., based on Animal Farm by George Orwell
- State of Ohio v. John Cameron Butler, based on The Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter
- State of Ohio v. Philip Malloy, based on Nothing but the Truth by Avi
- State of California v. George Milton, based on Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- Rhode Island v. C. Doyle, based on True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
- State of Ohio v. Fred Smith, based on Bloodstain by Christopher Rowan
- Oklahoma v. J. Case, based on The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
An additional case, The People v. Dr. Gimesby Roylott, based on The Adventure of the Speckled Band by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is available as a free download. This can give your students the opportunity to practice a whole or parts of a mock trial before diving into a larger case.
Mock Trial Showcase
Update! We are delaying deciding whether to hold the middle school mock trial state showcase in-person or online until more informed decision can be made about the state of the Pandemic in the spring. In the event the showcase is held in-person, accommodations will be made for schools to attend virtually. We will be in touch as soon as we have additional information.
Please feel welcome to contact Danielle Wilmot (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions.
Ohio Mock Trial Resources
This resource, with special thanks to Clermont County Common Pleas Court Mediator & Senior Magistrate Harold Paddock for developing and sharing, is perfect if you are getting lost trying to navigate the Mock trial evidence "maze".
The American Bar Association has created a guide to putting on Mock Trials. It has helpful information about the components of a trial, advise for students and sample trials.
Make Your Case is a courtroom trial simulation in which students control the action as they experience a real courtroom setting. Make Your Case was developed by Scholastic in conjunction with the American Board of Trial Advocates. The American Justice webpages also contain additional civic education resources, including lesson plans, printables and more.
This publication enhances the Mock Trial experience for students, teachers, coaches and judges by providing an interactive area that will help students better understand the trial process and learning tools for new and experienced advisors. Access to the site is available for $100 per team (up to 8 students) and $10 for each additional student, renewable each year.
Introducing Case Files
Click Here to check out these five easy steps which explain how to introduce a case to your students so they get the most out of it. This can be used as a starting point to introduce the Mock Trial case file to your students to help them understand the basic elements.
The Foundation of the International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC), has a YouTube channel with short videos offering mock trial tips for students. The videos include helpful suggestions for conducting direct and cross-examination, opening statements and closing arguments.
OCLRE created this video to help students and teachers learn the basics of a mock trial presentation. It details what each part of the trial is about and how the students should approach each section. The video uses examples from a state championship round so you can see each part of the trial in action.
This activity is specific to Middle School Mock Trial and should be used in conjunction with the Sherlock Holmes case file that is available as a free download here. This activity helps students learn when to use and when not to use an objection during a mock trial. It also allows students to practice these objections by acting out parts of the Sherlock Holmes case.
How do I get started?
If you or your school/organization are new to Ohio Mock Trial, welcome! First, you need the case file… The case is released annually at the Law & Citizenship Conference. Conference attendees are the first to receive their copy of the case and are also able to attend many mock trial related sessions, including the case presentation by members of the case writing committee and OCLRE staff. In addition to the case file, conference attendees hear from top-notch speakers in the fields of civics, social studies, law, and government, and leave with 30+ lessons and resources. Additionally, if you register for the Law & Citizenship Conference, you will receive a discount on the cost of the case file. As part of the conference, you can also attend an intro to Mock Trial professional development day for only $10 (regularly $25). This professional development session is intended for those who are new to mock trial, or who would like a refresher.
How many students do I need to make a Mock Trial team?
Middle school teams consist of 6-12 students. High school teams consist of 5-11 students. At the high school level, teams cannot compete if they drop below the minimum number of students.
I am unable to attend the Law & Citizenship Conference but want to get the Mock Trial case. What do I do?!
Take a deep breath and relax. You can still order the case! Complete the form under the "Case File" tab and the case file will be sent to you. Please note that cases will not be sent until after the Law & Citizenship Conference in September.
I’ve got my case materials. Is that all? Am I ready to for the competition/showcase?
No, not yet. Team registration is a separate cost and registration form. Most team advisors wait until closer to the registration deadline to make sure that student interest hasn’t waned and to be certain of the number of teams they will field.
My students and I are struggling with start-up. Who can help us?
OCLRE has teacher mentors for all of its programs, including mock trial. Teacher mentors have expressed willingness to help other teachers who are new to a program, to answer questions from the teacher perspective or offer advice. Click Here to access a list of mentors. You can also contact the Mock Trial Program Coordinator Danielle Wilmot, dwilmot@oclre, (614) 485-3507.
How much time should my students and I spend on practice and preparation?
The short and simple answer is: it varies. Some teams are classroom-based and therefore spend class time each week preparing. Other teams are extra-curricular and meet one or more times per week, before or after school or on weekends. Others may only have time to meet a few times per month. There is no right or wrong answer. Figure out what works best for you, your fellow advisors (if any), and your students.
I don’t have a legal advisor. Do I need one?
OCLRE does not require that mock trial teams have a legal advisor, however, most teachers appreciate assistance from volunteer attorneys, who help students understand case law, courtroom procedure and etiquette. Often times a mock trial legal advisor is the parent of a student or a local attorney who volunteers in his/her community. The time commitment for volunteer legal advisors varies and is worked out between the teacher/team advisor and attorney. If you are unable to find a legal advisor, contact Danielle Wilmot, dwilmot@oclre, and OCLRE may be able to put you in contact with an interested local attorney. Middle School Mock Trial relies less heavily on legal advisors than the high school program; however, all grade levels are welcome to work with a legal advisor.
When and where do my students compete?
The middle school state showcase will take place at the Ohio Supreme Court in spring (April-May). There will be three showcase dates to choose from, but teams will only participate on one day; teachers may choose the day that works best for their schedule.
I have a question about or found a discrepancy in, the facts of the case and/or a witness statement. What do I do?
Errata questions must be submitted by the teacher or legal advisor, not students, and should be directed to email@example.com.
((High School) It’s competition day and there is inclement weather in my part of the state/school is delayed/school is closed, etc. What do I do?
If your team cannot make it to the competition site, please immediately notify the district/regional competition coordinator where you are scheduled to compete (available in January) as soon as possible. You should also notify OCLRE by contacting Danielle Wilmot, dwilmot@oclre, (614) 485-3507. Teams are expected to follow school district policy and/or common sense when making the decision whether or not to travel in inclement weather. Most importantly: safety should come first! The scheduling of make-up competitions is at the discretion of OCLRE and the affected site coordinators (please see page 10 of the case manual for make-up competition policy).
My school doesn’t have a mock trial team, but I want to get involved. What can I do?
Are you a student? Start by talking to a teacher – it could be a social studies teacher, the drama teacher, or even the principal. If you and five or more interested students are willing to take on the challenge, the teacher may be willing, too. There is some expense involved, so make sure to factor that into consideration. If you get buy-in from school personnel, refer the person to the top of this list of FAQs for next steps. If a student can’t convince a teacher in his/her school, please contact OCLRE. On occasion, there are non-school affiliated community teams or other opportunities to get involved.
I am having trouble with the online order form and am getting frustrated. What should I do?
Don’t worry – OCLRE is here to help! Call us at (614) 485-3510 or toll-free at (877) 485-3510 and ask for Cathy. She can guide you through problems and make sure you get what you need. Additionally, Cathy can answer questions about usernames and passwords, as well as payment options. OCLRE endeavors to continually improve our online order and registration processes to benefit our constituents and your feedback helps us to do so.
What are the payment options for online orders and registrations? Do I have to use a credit card?
OCLRE offers several payment options. You may pay with a credit card, request to be invoiced, or enter a purchase order (PO) number. If the PO number is not known at the time an order is placed, you may select the purchase order option and then enter “pending” for the number.
How do I know if my order/registration has been completed successfully?
When orders and registrations have been submitted successfully to OCLRE, an automatic email confirmation is generated and should arrive in your inbox within minutes. If you do not receive a confirmation email within an hour, please contact OCLRE.
A few helpful hints for proper form completion:
- Follow the process all the way through, using the “Next” and “Submit” buttons.
- Complete all required (*) fields or you will not be able to proceed/finish
- Complete the payment portion of the form, even if you are not paying by credit card.
- Other options that you can select include requesting an invoice or entering a PO number (or indicate that a PO is in process and the number is “pending”)
None at this time.