Mock Trial Competition Saturday

January 9, 2008

Four Wyoming high schools have registered for the Wyoming High School Mock Trial (WHSMT) competition Saturday, Jan. 12, at the University of Wyoming College of Law.

Teams from Cheyenne East, Cheyenne Central, Lingle-Fort Laramie and Torrington will compete in early rounds at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m., with the final round at 1:30 p.m. and awards ceremony at 3:30 p.m. The winning team qualifies for the national competition May 8-10 in Wilmington, Del.

WHSMT is directed by the Wyoming Partnership for Civic Education (WPCE) at the UW American Heritage Center, with funding by the Wyoming State Bar Foundation.

Coordinators Ian Shaw, a Cheyenne attorney, and Marguerite Herman, a Cheyenne parent, are working to generate interest among high schools, since participation in the competition has dwindled in recent years.

The case being argued by the teams Saturday was selected by a six-member WHSMT steering committee: Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Jim Burke; Wyoming District Judge Ken Kautz; Wyoming Circuit Judge Roberta Coates; Dick Kean, WPCE director; Tom Collins, Wyoming Department of Education social studies specialist; and Don Morris, former WHSMT coordinator and Cheyenne high school coach.

The WHSMT is an opportunity for students to understand the American legal system by preparing a case -- both prosecution/plaintiff and defense -- for trial. Participants learn to resolve disputes or determine criminal guilt by examining and presenting a case to a judge and jury.

"Young people who participate in the Wyoming High School Mock Trial program acquire skills in analysis, critical thinking and reasoning, public speaking, teamwork, citizenship and the art of persuasion," Kean says. "Mock trial programs present a unique experience for students to develop thinking, writing and speaking skills that benefit them across the high school curriculum and in any career they follow."

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