St. Charles North High School, in St. Charles, placed first in the 32nd annual Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) High School Mock Trial Invitational held at the University of Illinois School of Law in Champaign March 8 and 9, 2014.
Hinsdale Central High School in Hinsdale came in second place, and third place went to Chicago Christian High School in Palos Heights. Hinsdale Central received the highest team average on the Written Law Exam. Teams from 42 Illinois high schools traveled to Champaign to participate in the program. St. Charles North will represent Illinois at the National High School Mock Trial Championship in Madison, Wisconsin.
“The mock trial competition provides a unique opportunity for high school students to learn civics through the courtroom,” says Hon. Michael J. Chmiel, of Woodstock, chair of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Law Related Education for the Public, which conducts the program. “Through the efforts of the ISBA and the University of Illinois, high schools have the rare chance to fully expose their students to a valued and necessary profession.”
Each 10-member team tries both sides – plaintiff and defense – of a hypothetical case developed by the ISBA Committee. This year’s case was Jersey Johnson v. Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). On Halloween Eve 1938, CBS’s radio program, “Mercury Theater on the Air,” presented an interpretation of, The War of the Worlds. A disclaimer aired at the beginning of the broadcast informing listeners that the work was fictional. Johnson and his/her cousin, Logan St. Clair, did not hear the original disclaimer or one that aired 40 minutes into the program, and believed it to be true. To avoid being captured by aliens, they went into hiding in the cellar of their home. They were later found by authorities in a state of mental disarray and physical deterioration from their time in hiding. In a lawsuit, Johnson alleged that CBS intentionally caused emotional distress and that he/she is now ostracized in the community because of the incident.
The high school mock trials have been conducted each year since 1982 by the ISBA to provide Illinois high school students an interesting and challenging way to gain insight into the American judicial system. Co-sponsors of the 2014 event are Illinois LEARN, Inc.; the Illinois Trial Team of the University of Illinois; the University of Illinois College of Law; and the Diversity Scholarship Foundation of Chicago.
The 32,000-member ISBA (isba.org), with offices in Springfield and Chicago, provides professional services to Illinois lawyers, and education and services to the public through a website (illinoislawyerfinder.com), consumer brochures, and distribution of legal information.