|3/18/2014 12:39:00 PM|
Mock trial tackles concussion issue
By Jim Cornelius
|Seated: Emily Christen, Haley Zadow, Angela Todd, Sarah Dumolt, Mary Stewart. Standing: Cooper Gould, Jason Biber, Shea Krevi and Alex Cyrus. photo by Jerry Baldock|
|White Team: Lane Huitt, Bridget Biber, Patrick Krevi, Earin Patton, Jake Sahlberg, R.J. Aryanfard, Jackson Morgan and Halston Sellentin. photo by Jerry Baldock|
Sisters students in the high school's mock trial elective class recently fought out a case that has resonance in the Sisters community. The case involved a student athlete who had received multiple concussions.
"She received three concussions within a week, which is obviously very bad for your health," said mock trial participant Cooper Gould.
The mock civil case tried in regional competition at the beginning of March fell into a "gap" between Max's Law, which requires schools to monitor concussions and provide protocols for sitting a student athlete out, and the later Jenna's Law, named after Sisters athlete Jenna Sneva, which expands requirements to cover club sports.
Attorney Coach Jerry Hanford told The Nugget that "this is the only case I know of that grew out of something from Sisters."
The Sisters team did not advance out of regional competition this year.
"We had a young and inexperienced team," said attorney Coach Darryl Doke.
The team also missed a lot of practice time due to snow days and multiple commitments on the part of students. In mock trial competition, teams compete on both plaintiff and defendant sides, and the team was less prepared on defense.
"We were much better on one side than we were the other," Gould acknowledged.
The verdict is unimportant; teams are judged on their skill in putting on their case. Teams get case materials in December and prepare for a March trial. Doke says that it is fun to see the students grapple with the material and gradually get comfortable dealing with the complexities of a legal case.
"It's always wonderful to see the growth," Doke said.
Sisters had a couple of standouts.
"Each team votes an MVP on the other side," Doke said.
Gould got the nod from opponents for his performance as an expert medical witness, and Bridget Biber was an MVP for her cross-examination of the mother of the injured child.
"She was relentless in her cross-examination," Doke said.
For her part, Biber said, "it was really just nice to have everybody have to shut up and listen."
The program introduces students to the workings of the justice system, which is always an eye-opener. R.J. Aryamfard noted that the experience is nothing like what we see on shows like "Law & Order."
"I think this gives me a better background in understanding the justice system," said Emily Christen.
Most of the current crop of mock trial participants have career aspirations that lie outside the legal profession. That's just fine, according to Coach Hanford.
"We're not making 20 new lawyers," he said with a wry grin. "God knows, we don't need 20 new lawyers. We teach critical thinking."
Parents may have mixed feelings about the skills their children develop through the mock trial program. All concurred that they have become a great deal more skillful at arguing.
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