School Without Walls wins judgment in mock trial
School Without Walls prevailed over Duke Ellington School of the Arts by a slight margin in finals of the 39th Annual Street Law Mock Trial in early April.
The finals were preceded by two days of intense debate at the DC Superior Court where more than 400 DCPS high school and public charter school students from 12 schools compete on 32 teams. The finals were held at the Georgetown University Law Center before former Chief Judge of the DC Superior Court Eugene Hamilton.
In the finals, School Without Walls argued for the plaintiff and Ellington High School for the defense. These two teams scored the highest of plaintiff and defendant teams, respectively, according to Street Law, the law education organization that works with the Georgetown Law Center to hold the mock trial event. This year, 18 Street Law classes are taught in 12 high schools by 25 instructors from Georgetown Law Center.
This year’s trial problem, Billings v Pearson & the Metro City School District, was created by the Street Law program faculty and dealt with allegations of cyber bullying. Alex Billings, a high school freshman at King High School, was bullied by another freshman, CJ Pearson, leading to emotional distress, missed classes and bad grades.
Billings also claimed that King High School was negligent in its response to the bullying. Pearson responded that the harm was not intentional nor as extensive as Billings claimed. King High School responded that it appropriately followed its anti-bullying policy, which does not extend to events that take place on social media outside of school activities.
The tournament was the culmination of a year-long Street Law course taught by Georgetown Law students, who teach DC high school students about numerous legal issues and how to better participate in their community.
The course resonates strongly with the high school participants.
“Making objections is my favorite part of trial. It’s a tough job, because you have to jump up in a quiet courtroom to protect your client. But that’s what I’m going to be doing at the competition: I’m an objector,” said a Luke C. Moore High School student who acted as a plaintiff attorney at the competition.