Students Learn to ‘Think on Their Feet’ During Mock Trial

May 31, 2012
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LINCROFT – The gymnasium at Saint Leo the Great School was transformed into a courtroom recently as members of the school’s eighth-grade mock trial club argued a product liability case.

Students at St. Leo the Great School held a mock trial with Superior Court Judge Lawrence M. Lawson presiding. From left in front row are: Lawson, Jessica Ventura, Jane Warshaw, Alyssa Allocco and Morgan McLoud. Back row, from left, are: Michael Dell’Anno, Patrick Andree and Gregory Wall.

Superior Court Judge Lawrence M. Lawson presided over the May 22 mock trial during which students assumed the roles of lawyers, witnesses, business executives and distraught family members while a defective product case was argued. After evidence was presented and testimony heard, Lawson instructed the “jury” of Saint Leo fifth-through eighth-graders to render a verdict based on the evidence before them. The students then voted in favor of the plaintiff, putting aside personal loyalties in favor of rendering a fair decision.

The school’s program was held in conjunction with the New Jersey State Bar Foundation statewide mock trial competition, held annually for grade school and high school students. Students create fictitious case scenarios in keeping with the year’s theme. The theme for 2011-2012 was product liability.

Saint Leo’s Mock Trial Team members prepared their case under the guidance of eighth-grade teach­er  Jeanmarie Tommolino of Colts Neck and Maureen Warshaw of Middletown, who worked with the team twice weekly since September. Those on the team had to meet certain academic standards, display creative writing abilities, and be able to speak in front of an audience.

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This is the 15th year for the club at Saint Leo’s.

“The kids learn to write critically and analytically,” Warshaw said. “Next, they learn to think on their feet. I actually teach them direct and cross-examination. The best candidates get the major parts, but all members in mock trial must speak at the presentation, even if it is only one line. They learn to actually speak in public.”

Lawson said he was “very impressed” by the students’ performance. “You students were very well-prepared and knew your case. Right now, I am headed to a trial in Freehold, and I’m not sure those lawyers will be as well-prepared as you are. Please keep up the good work,” he said.

Mock Trial 2012 members are: Alyssa Allocco, Patrick Andree, Rebecca Bauer, Alexis Borrino, Christina Buzzanco, Megan Casey, Quinn Conway, Megan Daniels, Kelly Deluca,  Michael Dell’Anno, Samantha Duffy, Jaclyn Leibrock, Juliana LoSordo, Morgan McLoud, Vanessa Pinho, Katie Regan, Chris Tommolino, Jessica Ventura, Gregory Wall, and Jane Warshaw.

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