Registration is NOW OPEN for 2018-2019 Mock Trial

October 31st, 2018 by MCCE Admin

Students seated for Mock TrialThe Michigan Center for Civic Education announces that registration is now open for high schools to register in this year’s tournament.

This year’s competition is based on the following case:

Jordan Simon was a seemingly healthy 17-year old high school senior.  He attended a well-known private high school, Spartan Academy, where he established himself as a star sprinter and was competing for an NCAA Division I University track scholarship at the time of his unexpected deadly heart attack.  

The autopsy revealed the steroid Erythropoietin (EPO) in his bloodstream. EPO is used medically to treat certain forms of anemia. EPO has also been known to improve athletic performance because it increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood. Conversely, EPO also increases the blood viscosity, which can cause the blood to clot and clog capillaries, resulting in a heart attack.

At hand is the question of negligence. Jordan’s surviving parent, Kelly Simon, filed a lawsuit against Spartan Academy and the track coach claiming Spartan Academy and Terry Swift they encouraged Jordan to use steroids, should have known he was using steroids and taken steps to stop his steroid use. The coach and Spartan Academy deny Kelly Simon’s claims and contend that Jordan Simon assumed the risk of using steroids; and advance that Kelly Simon was comparatively negligent in not discovering Jordan was using steroids, and not taking steps to stop his steroid use.

Explore the case and the law with your school’s Mock Trial teams. Assess for yourself who has liability for Jordan’s death.

Michigan’s 2018-2019 Mock Trial was initially used by the Arkansas Bar Foundation and adapted by the South Carolina Bar High School Tournament. Thank you for your permission to adapt and bring the case to Michigan’s students.  

The MHSMTT has been organized and conducted by the Michigan Center for Civic Education since 1982. Teams of 6-10 students present arguments before panels of three judges per courtroom. One judge presides over the trial, while the others serve as the jury.

Regional competitions will take place on the following dates:

February 23, 2019 – Washtenaw County Regional, Ann Arbor
March 2, 2019 – Macomb County Regional, Mt. Clemens**
March 9, 2019 – Oakland County Regional. Pontiac
March 16, 2019 – Kent County Regional, Grand Rapids

The top 10 teams will compete in the State Finals on March 23, 2019, in Lansing.

The state champions will be eligible to compete in the National Mock Trial Championship May 16-18, 2019 in Augusta, GA

Interested schools can register for the Tournament online on our MHSMTT Registration page.

More information about the Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament is available here.

The deadline for registration is 3 p.m. January 11, 2019


James Madison Legacy Project Summer Institute: July 23-27

June 1st, 2018 by MCCE Admin

Calling All Secondary School Social Studies Teachers! Register Now for the Summer Institute!

Mock Trial courtroomPlease join the Michigan Center for Civic Education for it’s 4th and final cohort of the James Madison Legacy Project designed to provide premium Michigan secondary school teacherswith a professional learning opportunity focused on theWe the People: The Citizen and the Constitution program. MCCE funded this initiative through a SEED grant.

Qualifying Michigan teachers can APPLY HERE: Cohort IV JMLP Application no later than June 11, 2018. More program information is available by opening or downloading our FAQ.

All accommodations and meals are provided, and travel is reimbursed. $100 deposit is required but returned on completion of participation.

Experience this national civics curriculum and learn how to effectively implement it in your own classroom. Transform your classroom through student simulated Congressional hearings focusing on challenges to American Constitutional Democracy in the twenty-first century.

Professional Learning and Community

Join mentor teachers and renowned guest speakers to deepen your civic scholarship and expand your craft. Previous institute speakers include Paula McAvoy, Linda Monk, and Mary Beth Tinker. This summer’s speakers to be announced.

Grow your community and network of fellow enthusiastic Michigan social studies educators!

Participant Testimonies and Data

“My classroom pedagogy is more robust and my content knowledge is sharper.”

• 97% of JMLP teachers agree that they are better equipped to teach their students about American government as a result of the program.

• 95% of JMLP teachers agree that they are better able to teach students about good citizenship.

Questions? Contact Christine Hekman (Coordinator) at christine.a.hekman@gmail.com


Join Us Jan 11-12 in Lansing for Conversations in Civic Education – How “We the Students” become “We the People”

January 3rd, 2018 by MCCE Admin

Join the Michigan Center for Civic Education Thursday, January 11 & Friday, January 12, 2018 at the Radisson Hotel in Lansing MI for an exciting 2-Day exploration of civil discourse curriculum and pedagogy – How “We the Students” become “We the People.”

Enjoy aneveningof conversation in civic education Thursday with Dinner, keynote speakers and breakout sessions. Then stay for Friday’s high school state finalsofWe the People: The Citizen and the Constitution. Featured Speakers include Paula McAvoy, Mary Beth Tinker, Tamara Shreiner and Robert Leming.

Thursday – Jan. 11

5:30 p.m. Welcome and introduction to We the People andthe JamesMadison LegacyProject

6:00 p.m.Dinner and Keynote speaker, Paula McAvoy, author ofThe Political Classroom.

7:00 p.m. Breakout sessions

8:00 p.m. A Conversation with MaryBeth Tinker

8:45 Civic Social Hour

Friday – Jan. 12

8:30 a.m. – We the People State Finals begin. Through a learning lab, explore how simulated Congressional hearings transforms students into informed civic leaders.

Cost: $75

Your registration fee secures your seat. Enjoy dinner, discussion, and a talk with Mary Beth Tinker, plus our civic ed social. Includes complementary MCCE membership.

Register at http://bit.ly/CivicEdJan2018


Sign Up Open for Practice Mock Trial Clinic

October 30th, 2017 by MCCE Admin

Get ready for the MCCE Mock Trial season by registering your team for our Mock Trial Practice Clinic, scheduled for Dec. 14, 2017 at the Michigan Hall of Justice, Learning Center.

Our clinic will help students learn courtroom skills under the guidance of experienced trial attorneys and tournament judges. Clinic participants take part in sessions devoted to improving mock trial skills such as:

  • Theme, Theory, and Analysis
  • Opening Statements and Closing Arguments
  • Direct Examination and Cross-examination
  • Being an effective witness
  • Handling of Evidence and Exhibits
  • Objections and Responses
  • Courtroom Do’s and Dont’s
  • A Judge’s Perspective
  • Coach’s Corner
Cost for registration is $10 per student. Register online no later than December 7thto participate.

This year’s clinic will include a tour of the Michigan Supreme Court Learning Center and, if scheduling permits, a visit to the Michigan Supreme Court Chambers! Register Online today!


Sign Up Now to be a Mock Trial Judge or Court Officer!

October 30th, 2017 by MCCE Admin

The Michigan Center for Civic Education is seeking volunteers to serve as Judges and Court Officers for the 2018 Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament.

The Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament involves teams of high-school students taking on the roles of attorneys and witnesses competing against other schools in courtrooms across the state, in front of real judges and lawyers, under the supervision of their teachers and attorney coaches.

The competition dates are as follows:

◦ February 24, 2018 – Washtenaw County Regional, Ann Arbor

◦ March 3, 2018 – Macomb County Regional, Mt. Clemens

◦ March 10, 2018 – Oakland County Regional. Pontiac

◦ March 17, 2018 – Kent County Regional, Grand Rapids

• The top 10 teams will compete in the State Finals on March 24, 2018 in Lansing. (Experienced Judges only, please.)

These events require over 200 volunteer judges and dozens of court officers.

For moreinformationor to register as a judge or court officer, visit

http://www.miciviced.org/mock-trial/mhsmtt-volunteer-registration


Registration Now Open For 2018 Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament

October 30th, 2017 by MCCE Admin

The Michigan Center for Civic Education is pleased to announcethat registration is now open for high schools to register for the 2018 Mock Trial Tournament.

Regional competitions will take place on the following dates:

  • February 24, 2018 – Washtenaw County Regional, Ann Arbor

  • March 3, 2018- Macomb County Regional, Mt. Clemens

  • March 10, 2018- Oakland County Regional. Pontiac

  • March 17, 2018- Kent County Regional, Grand Rapids


The top 10 teams will compete in the State Finals on March 24, 2018 in Lansing.

The state champions will be eligible to compete in the National Mock Trial Championship in Reno, Nevada, May 10-13, 2018.

The 2018 Mock-Trial case promises to be relevant, challenging and thought-provoking. The topic will be announced in early November.

The MHSMTT has been organized and conducted by the Michigan Center for Civic Education since 1982. Teams of 6-10 students present arguments before panels of three judges per courtroom. One judge presides over the trial, while the others serve as the jury.

The Michigan High school Mock Trial Tournament is made possible through support from the State Bar of Michigan, Oakland County Bar Foundation, Litigation Section, State Bar of Michigan, and the Macomb County Bar Foundation.

More information about the Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament and how to register is available athttp://www.miciviced.org/mock-trial/2017-mhsmtt-tournament


Mock’ Madness: Tournament tests trial skills of young students

March 22nd, 2017 by MCCE Admin

By Linda Laderman
Legal News

More than 600 high school students from across the state are participating in the 2017 Michigan Center for Civic Education’s (MCCE) annual Mock Trial Tournament.

According to Linda Start, MCCE’s executive director, the issue this year involves allegations of excessive force by a police officer.

“It’s timely,” Start said. “The case was chosen with input from the Michigan State Police. We wanted to make sure it was a balanced presentation of an important issue.”

Since 2003, the Oakland County Bar Foundation has contributed $70,000 to help sponsor the tournament. It is money well spent, said Kaveh Kashef, president of the OCBF.

“We are very judicious and educated stewards with our donations. Sponsoring the Mock Trial Tournament falls squarely into our mission to bring a strong understanding of the law and the Constitution to high school students,” Kashef said.

Through its sponsorship of the event, the OCBF aims to give its participants a hands-on experience in a real world setting, Kashef noted.

“The mock trials demystify the legal process by giving students access to working attorneys and judges in a way that movies and books can’t,” Kashef said. “The tournament provides an avenue for the kids to challenge convention. That is the best way education can be achieved.”

The stature of the judiciary as it relates to the current national political dialogue has made educational events like the mock trials a priority for the OCBF, according to Kashef.

“To have an understanding of the intersection of the law and politics and how it impacts all of our lives is more important than ever,” Kashef said. “Not only is the Supreme Court highly politicized, but in light of issues like the Affordable Care Act, the law has become more prevalent in the discourse of daily lives.”

To further strengthen the educational ties between the legal community and the community at-large, volunteers like Victoria King, a judicial staff attorney for the Oakland County Circuit Court, give a significant amount of their time to coach and judge the 62 teams that are registered for this year’s tournament.

King, who also is an OCBF Fellow, said she became a volunteer observer to support the OCBF and because she wanted to be part of a program that helps teach its young participants to “think on their feet.”

“I see the excitement the kids have and think, ‘You’re at the beginning of your life. You can do something if you set your mind to it,’” King said. “The world is very open to them. The mock trials teach them to think for themselves and not just take what is given to them.”

A former quality assurance engineer who attended law school as a working parent, King said she believes in the high schoolers’ ability to take on new challenges as they progress through the tournament.

“Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to get started, but you won’t really know until you try,” King said. “These kids are building a skill that is essential to their future.”

With volunteers like King and the support of the OCBF, Start said she is looking forward to the March 25th state finals in Lansing.

“Volunteers act as team coaches, trial judges, and court officers. The lawyer and teacher coaches work with high school teams for several months leading up to the competition,” Start said.

“We wouldn’t have had 34 years of successful tournaments without the OCBF and our volunteers. Their support has been vitally important to our infrastructure as a whole.”

The Michigan Center for Civic Education is a non-partisan 501(c)3 corporation, established in 1982 as an organization “solely dedicated to preparing an active and informed citizenry through law-related and civic education.”

Besides the Mock Trial Tournament, the MCCE provides programs for teachers, students and the community “that reflect best practices in civic and law-related education and provide experiences that are relevant, rigorous, and connected to real life.”


James Madison Legacy Project: Sign up Now!

March 1st, 2017 by MCCE Admin

The Michigan Center for Civic Education invites you to join a premier group of secondary teachers in a professional learning opportunity focused on the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution program. MCCE was awarded funding by the Center for Civic Education through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED). The grant supports peofessional development to qualifying Michigan Teachers.

The James Madison Legacy Project (JMLP) will provide you opportunities to:

● learn with Constitutional scholars,
● enhance student-centered teaching and learning,
● receive a classroom set of We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution instructional resources valued over $400 plus online resources,
● receive $500 stipend upon full participation plus travel stipends, lodging, meals, and substitute reimbursement,
● earn SCECH or graduate credit (for a fee),
● contribute to meaningful research on best practices in civic education. and
● collaborate with experienced mentor teachers.

In exchange, you will be asked to:

● infuse a minimum of 40 hours of We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution curriculum and instruction into your designated classes,
● participate in our Professional Learning Community, an online discussion of We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution curriculum and instruction,
● invite MCCE staff and mentor teachers to observe and support classroom instruction and curriculum,
● take a teacher knowledge pre and post-test,
● administer student knowledge pre- and post- test to the same group of students,
● involve students in the curricular culminating activity: simulated congressional hearing(s), and
● collect, provide, and share data from classes or students (consistent with the IRB process).

If accepted, you will join Michigan JMLP Cohort 3, a federally funded research and learning initiative. The Project is designed to measure both the impact the professional learning and curriculum has for teachers and the impact the program has on student learning and political efficacy, especially in high-need student populations.

More information and how to apply is available at http://www.miciviced.org/programs/jmlp


Oakland County Bar Foundation Supports Mock Trial

February 16th, 2017 by MCCE Admin

Excitement is building for the Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament (MHSMTT) which will take place because of the continued support of the Oakland County Bar Foundation (OCBF).

Funding was once again provided by OCBF to the Michigan Center for Civic Education for the 2016-2017 Tournament. Students from across the state compete in real courtrooms taking on the role of attorneys and witnesses in front of real judges and lawyers during the competition.

OCBF President Kaveh Kashef said, “The Oakland County Bar Foundation is pleased to provide continued support of the program for the 14th consecutive year. Many of our attorneys who take part in the tournament feel it is an invaluable experience. We wish the Center continued success with the Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament.”

Linda Start, Executive Director of the Michigan Center for Civic Education (MCCE), expressed her appreciation for the Foundation’s support. “The MHSMTT would not exist without the support and involvement ofl awyers from across Michigan,” said Start. “Lawyers tell us that they get a huge return on their investment of time. They often remark how it gives them a great opportunity to interface with young people in the community and how impressed they are with the student participants.”

Regional Tournaments are held across the state beginning in Kent County on February 25 followed by a competition in Macomb County on March 4. The Oakland County Regional Tournament in Pontiac will take place on March 11. The Oakland competition continues to be the largest, with over 20 teams scheduled to compete at the Oakland County Circuit Courthouse. The regionals will end in Washtenaw County on March 18.

The top ten teams from across the state will advance to the State Finals in Lansing on March 25. The winning Michigan team is eligible to compete in the National Mock Trial Championship scheduled for May 11-13 in Hartford, Connecticut.

The Michigan Center for Civic Education (MCCE) has conducted the Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament since the early 1980s. The program is designed to re-enact what takes place ina trial court. Funding for the program is also provided by the State Bar of Michigan and the Litigation Section of the State Bar of Michigan. MCCE is a non-partisan 501(C) 3 corporation, established in 1982 as Michigan’s premier organization solely dedicated to preparing an active and informed citizenry through law-related and civic education.

The Oakland County Bar Foundation (OCBF) is a local 501 (C)3 that supports legal aid and legal education in the area. Since 2002, the Foundation has granted over 1.7 million dollars to worthy non-profits in the county. To learn more about the OCBF, visit their website at www.ocba.org.

Any questions about Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament may be directed to MCCE Director Linda Start (517) 367-6422. She can also be reached by email at mocktrial@miciviced.org.


James Madison Legacy Project: Sign up Now!

May 5th, 2016 by MCCE Admin

The Michigan Center for Civic Education seeks motivated secondary civics and government teachers looking for a student-centered, research driven ways to teach the foundations of our government, the Constitution, and Bill of Rights and contemporary applications.

Twenty-five selected teachers will become the second cohort of the James Madison Legacy Project. The Project is centered around the newly updated We the People…the Citizen & the Constitution instructional materials. With the guidance of scholars and mentor teachers, participants will receive effective, student-centered, research-driven instructional practices.

TEACHERS WILL RECEIVE
• A classroom set of the newly revised We the People Instructional Resource (middle or high school) – valued over $400
• A one year teacher license for the We the People e-book
• A $500 stipend for completion of all program requirements
• Energizing content from constitutional scholars
• Proven and effective teaching strategies by mentor teachers
• Travel stipends, substitute reimbursement, lodging and meals
• Participation in a supportive, collaborative professional learning community
• Alignment with current and proposed grade level content expectations
• SCECH credit
• Graduate credit (pending)

PROGRAM PARTICIPATION REQUIREMENTS
● Attendance and Participation at the 2016 Summer Institute from July 18-22 at Calvin College, Grand Rapids.
● Participate in Teacher Knowledge JMLP Pre Test (July) and Post Test (March)
● Administration of JMLP Student Pre and Post Test
● Use of Instructional Resources and Simulated Congressional Hearing in Classroom Instruction
● Participate in Professional Learning Community
● Participate in two webinars (weeks of October 17 and March 6 tentative)
● Attend We the People State Finals in January (January 6 or 13)

Click here for JMLP Cohort 2 Registration Flyer

Click here for Summer Institute information

Click here for JMLP Cohort 2 Application Form

Questions? Contact us at jmlp@miciviced.org or (517) 367-6422

The James Madison Legacy Project is made possible by a generous grant from the U.S. Department of Education through the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program. The Michigan Center for Civic Education has been selected to implement this program in Michigan


East Grand Rapids High School takes We the People Crown

January 20th, 2016 by MCCE Admin

east-grand-rapids-at-capitol

East Grand Rapids High School, led by teacher Janice Yates, took first place at the 2016 Michigan We the People State Finals held January 8 at the Michigan Capitol Complex in Lansing.

East Kentwood High School (teacher Hillary Baker) finished second and Marquette High School (teacher Fred Cole) finished third.

Every year, volunteers dedicate their time to evaluate the students’ performance during the simulated congressional hearings. One judge said, “To see and interact with all those eager, well-prepared students and their teachers and parents and friends give me faith in the future”. The event would not have been possible without the over fifty volunteers who spent the day with the students.

With their first-place finish, East Grand Rapids qualifies to compete against other states in the 29th We the People National finals, held in Washington, D.C., and at the University of Maryland, April 22-25. In addition, Michigan has been awarded a wildcard spot this year making second place East Kentwood high school eligible to advance as well. Each team won three Unit Awards at the State Finals.

Other participating schools included Cesar Chavez Academy High School, Detroit; Coldwater High School; Howell High School; Hudsonville High School; Marian High School, Bloomfield Hills; The Potter’s House, Wyoming; and Richmond High School.


James Madison Legacy Project Professional Development Opportunity: Sign Up Now!

November 17th, 2015 by MCCE Admin

The Michigan Center for Civic Education seeks secondary social studies teachers looking for a new, effective way to teach the foundations of our government, the Constitution, and Bill of Rights.

MCCE is inviting social studies teachers to apply for a professional development opportunity designed to train educators how to best utilize the We the People…the Citizen & the Constitution instructional resource which includes effective, performance based instructional practices.

Participating teachers will receive:

• Classroom set of the newly revised We the People Instructional Resource (middle or high school) or Classroom set of We the People e-books; value over $400.
• $500 stipend
• Content from constitutional scholars and teaching strategies by mentor teachers
• Travel stipends, substitute reimbursement, lodging, meals
• Opportunity to be a part of a supportive, collaborative learning community
• Alignment with current and proposed grade level content expectations
• SCECH Credit (pending)

Details:

• January 7, 5:30-8:30, Lansing (Lodging provided). Kick off meeting
• January 8, 9:00-4:00, Michigan State Capitol Complex. Starting with the end in mind, an experiential learning opportunity during the We the People State Finals
• January/February-On your own. Review Units 1-3 of the We the People resource
• February 6, 9:00-3:00, Location TBD
• February/March- On your own. Review Units 4-6* of the We the People resource
• March 12, 9:00-3:00, Location TBD

For more information and registration details, go to http://www.miciviced.org/programs/jmlp

Apply by December 15, 2015 to reserve your spot.

The JMLP is made possible by a generous grant from the U.S. Department of Education through the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program. The Michigan Center for Civic Education has been selected to implement this program in Michigan.


Michigan Center for Civic Education Receives Funds to Support Professional Development

November 15th, 2015 by MCCE Admin

The Michigan Center for Civic Education (MCCE) is pleased to announce that funds are available to provide free professional development for Michigan’s middle and high school teachers of civics, government, and U.S. History.

The initiative, the James Madison Legacy Project, is part of a nationwide professional development program directed by the Center for Civic Education (CCE), a nonprofit educational organization. CCE was recently awarded a grant under the U.S. Department of Education’s Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant program. MCCE has been selected to implement this program in Michigan.

The funding will be used to provide professional development to train educators how to best utilize the We the People…the Citizen & the Constitution instructional resource which includes effective, performance based instructional practices.

The need to improve civic education is real. The recent National Assessment of Educational Progress in civics revealed that only about 25% of students performed at or above the “proficient” level. All other students scored at “basic” or “below basic” levels, leaving them ill-equipped to participate effectively in civic life.

“This grant will allow MCCE to continue to focus on our core mission to promote and support the development of knowledgeable, engaged responsible citizens by supporting teachers with professional development and curriculum resources,” said Linda Start, MCCE Executive Director.


Registration is now open for the 2016 Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament

October 11th, 2015 by MCCE Admin

The Michigan Center for Civic Education announces that registration is now open for high schools to register for the 2016 Tournament.

Regional competitions will take place on the following dates:

February 20, 2016: Washtenaw County Regional, Ann Arbor
February 27, 2016: Oakland County Regional, Pontiac
March 5, 2016: Macomb County Regional, Mt. Clemens
Kent County Regional, Grand Rapids

The top 10 teams will compete in the State Finals on March 19, 2016, in Lansing.

The state champions will be eligible to compete in the National Mock Trial Championship in Boise, Idaho, May 12-14, 2016.

The 2015-16 Mock-Trial case promises to be relevant, challenging and thought-provoking as students grapple with allegations that a bullying victim resorted to criminal actions in response to perceived mistreatment by peers.

People v. Casey Campbell: Detective Rory Riley received a call on the Park Lane City Police department’s anonymous tip line informing the detective of a suspicious container near the high school cafeteria. It is a clear container holding liquid and taped around the container was a wristwatch, wires, a battery and metal igniter strip. The school is evacuated. The device is neutralized.

The following day, Sawyer Simpson, a senior at Park Lane High, visited Det. Riley claiming to have information about the incident and accusing fellow senior, Casey Campbell, of planting the device. Casey felt that Sawyer and Sawyer’s friends were bullies. Sawyer has been accused of bullying and attempting to frame others of wrong doing in the past. Sawyer told Det. Riley about seeing Casey near where the device was found. Sawyer also informed Det. Riley that Casey said “You will be sorry that you ever picked on me.” In addition, Sawyer found some disturbing information on Casey’s social media page including pictures of Sawyer and Sawyer’s group of friends called “The Crew.” Casey’s page also listed pyrotechnics as a hobby as well as a picture of Park Lane High on fire with a person labeled “Sawyer” trying to escape the building. Despite denying any wrongdoing, Det. Riley arrested Casey Campbell. Is Casey guilty or is this incident all a bully’s attempt to frame an innocent victim?

The MHSMTT has been organized and conducted by the Michigan Center for Civic Education since 1982. Teams of 6-10 students present arguments before panels of three judges per courtroom. One judge presides over the trial, while the others serve as the jury.

The Michigan High school Mock Trial Tournament is made possible through support from the State Bar of Michigan, Oakland County Bar Foundation, Litigation Section, State Bar of Michigan, and the Macomb County Bar Foundation.

More information about the Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament and how to register is available at http://www.miciviced.org/mock-trial/2016-mhsmtt-tournament


Championship Caliber Area mock trial team heading to nationals

May 7th, 2015 by MCCE Admin

If dedication to learning the intricacies of trial procedure is an indication of success, then the Ann Arbor Community High School Mock Trial team will be a formidable opponent when its members participate in the National Mock Trial Championship May 14-16, in Raleigh, N.C. Approximately 50 teams are expected to participate.

The team has compiled an impressive track record. Before advancing to the national level, it won the regional and state mock trial competitions. The Raleigh trip marks the fourth time in the last five years the team has gone to the finals, faculty coach Chloe Root said.

The judges in Raleigh will hear a tort case involving negligent hiring and battery. The complaint, brought by a 19-year-old college track star and Olympic hopeful, claims a shot from a security guard’s Taser caused the teen-ager to tumble down a flight of stairs. Serious injuries ensued. As a result, the plaintiff contends that any Olympic aspirations that existed before the fall were crushed.

At the national competition students will face teams from across the U.S. and other countries. Last year teams from as far away as Australia and New Zealand were represented. This year a team from South Korea is expected to attend, Root said.

A handful of volunteer attorneys and judges, along with a drama instructor, assist Root as she prepares the team for the national tournament.

Attorney coach Trent Collier, a partner at Collins Einhorn in Southfield, is one of the mock trial team’s attorney coaches. He works with the team on hearsay, the rules of evidence, and helps team members polish their scenes for the finals.

Collier said the students develop a genuine sense of legal professionalism that evokes positive comments from sitting judges and attorneys.

“The kids are really open to feedback, the more viewpoints we have the better the end product will be.”

Collier recalled an observation a sitting judge made about the team.

“He said he had to remind himself that these are high school students,” Collier related.

The students are not the only ones who benefit from Collier’s coaching.

“Working with the students invigorates my practice. When I was in high school I could have no more done a mock trial than flown to the moon. These kids are so motivated,” Collier said. “It is a real joy to watch them master the laws of evidence and how to perform in court civilly and respectfully.”

Coach Root shares Collier’s sentiments.

“Former coach Cheryl Grace asked me if I ‘d like to become involved. I came to a few practices and was easily hooked. I really enjoy the process,” Root said during a short break from one of the many team run-throughs.

This year is the first time the team has made it to the national competition solely under her tutelage.

Although quick to acknowledge the successes of her predecessors, Root is happy that her efforts have also been fruitful.

“The success of the mock trial program was built on other coaches’ efforts so I felt lucky to be around for the ride,” Root said. “This is the first team that I have coached all the way through, so I guess I am doing okay.”

In addition to emphasizing the law, Root calls attention to the importance of strategy.

“Mock trial is a lot more strategy than theatre,” she said. “This is like an intellectual sport for the kids.”

Accordingly, student lawyer, Sara Jackson, 16, has sharpened her skills in her role as plaintiff’s counsel.

“A huge part of the trial is reading the judges, so one of the most important things we do is to have guest judges come to our practices,” Jackson said. “We have been working really hard.”

For the mock trial team hard work means practice, practice and more practice.

Since the beginning of April the team has spent four to five hours a night, four nights a week studying the case, learning the rules of evidence and honing their ability to switch roles from defense witness to plaintiff’s counsel. Spare time is often spent on fund-raising events to help finance the trip to Raleigh. To that end the team has its own Facebook presence and a funding page at IndieGoGo: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/community-high-school-mock-trial-team-to-nationals.

Avery Farmer, a 17-year-old junior at Community High and a veteran competitor on the national level, echoes the team’s attitude toward the Raleigh competition.

“The national tournament is a fun experience,” Farmer said. “We push ourselves really hard. You always have to be on your ‘A’ game.”

By Linda Laderman
Legal News

Published: Thu, May 07, 2015


East Grand Rapids Students finish 8th at the We the People National Finals

April 28th, 2015 by MCCE Admin

wtp-egr-nationals

After three days of questioning by experts on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, East Grand Rapids High School students finished 8th out of 56 teams from across the United States.

According to Linda Start, Executive Director of the Michigan Center for Civic Education, finishing in the top ten is an impressive achievement.

“I was thrilled to be able to observe the last day of competition held on Capitol Hill in real Senate Hearing rooms,” said Start. “There was a great turn out from the East Grand Rapids community and the students made us all very proud.”

During the three-day competition, panels of judges, including state supreme court justices, constitutional scholars, lawyers, and public officials challenged the students to apply constitutional principles and historical facts to contemporary situations.

The first two days of competition were held at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. The top ten teams competed for a third day on Capitol Hill.

Janice Yates who teaches the We the People class at East Grand Rapids expressed pride in her students. “It’s impossible to understand how impressive these young students are unless you actually see them in action,”

“They are knowledgeable and able to weave together information from all of their studies into coherent arguments. The judges kept saying their knowledge level is well beyond what they see even in law school”, said Yates.

The team earned the right to compete at the national level after winning the Michigan We the People State Finals in January. The Michigan We the People program is conducted by the Michigan Center for Civic Education.


Northville Montessori Students exhibit Civics Excellence

April 22nd, 2015 by MCCE Admin

Under the guidance of teacher Keith Gall, students from Northville Montessori competed at the Third Annual We the People National Invitational April 17 – 21, 2015 on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

.team

The National Invitational takes the form of simulated congressional hearing. During the competition, students were put to the test by judges, including constitutional scholars, lawyers, and public officials, who challenged them to apply constitutional principles and historical facts to contemporary situations. The class was divided into six groups based on the six units of the We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution middle school textbook.

Northville Montessori was pleased to leave with two Unit Awards—Units One and Four.

The team earned the right to compete at the national level after participating at the Michigan We the People State Finals in January.

While in Washington, D.C., students also had the opportunity to tour our nation’s capital and meet with members of Congress and other important dignitaries.


Registration is now open for the 2015 Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament

October 8th, 2014 by MCCE Admin

The Michigan Center for Civic Education announces that registration is now open for high schools to register for the 2015 Tournament.

Regional competitions will take place on the following dates:

•February 28, 2015; Washtenaw County Regional
•March 7, 2015; Macomb County Regional and Kent County Regional
•March 14, 2015; Oakland County Regional

The top 10 teams will compete in the State Finals on March 28, 2015, in Lansing.

The state champions will be eligible to compete in the National Mock Trial Championship in Raleigh, North Carolina, May 14-16, 2015.

This year’s case is a civil case– Smith v. Lakeshore Computers– about a high-school student’s right to privacy when using a school-provided laptop computer:

Western High School approached Lakeshore Computers with a proposed plan to provide all Western High students with personal laptop computers. With approval of the PTA and the School Board, the program launched with the 2011-2012 school year. At the beginning of the year, Lakeshore and Western HS held information sessions for students and parents in which they discussed the positive aspects of the new program along with some general rules and insurance guidelines.

Jami Smith, a Western High senior, turned 18 at the beginning of the 2011-2012 year, so when the new laptop program started, s/he signed the applicable contract on his/her own. As the year progressed, Jami and his/her friends became suspicious that the school was spying on them using the laptops’ webcams, so they created a plan to put their suspicions to the test. Their plan worked, and when they discovered that the school, Lakeshore, and CoolTech, Inc. (a Lakeshore subsidiary) had been capturing images from students’ webcams and taking remote screenshots of their laptops, Jami filed his/her lawsuit.

The MHSMTT has been organized and conducted by the Michigan Center for Civic Education since 1982. Teams of 6-10 students present arguments before panels of three judges per courtroom. One judge presides over the trial, while the others serve as the jury.

The Michigan High school Mock Trial Tournament is made possible through support from the State Bar of Michigan, Oakland County Bar Foundation, Litigation Section, State Bar of Michigan, and the Macomb County Bar Foundation.

More information about the Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament and how ot register is available here.


A Transformative Experience: Lamphere High School Teacher and Student Attend Constitution Day Celebration in Washington DC

September 29th, 2014 by MCCE Admin

Nichole Bontomasi and Michael Baker, teacher and student at Lamphere High School in Madison Heights, were selected to represent Michigan at the Civic Renewal Network’s Constitution Day Celebration on September 16-17, 2014.

The Michigan Center for Civic Education was asked to recommend a high school teacher who engages students in projects that address a newsworthy civic issue, problem or need; has the potential to influence local or national policymakers; includes a “call to action,”; and demonstrates civic skills, knowledge, and attitudes.

One of the many reasons Bontomasi was selected was because her Current Issues class completes a project based on Project Citizen every year. This year’s project, “No Child Left Behind – Pathways For Us All,” focused on offering a high school graduation track which encourages/allows students to explore trade school as a viable choice to college instead of an act of failure or desperation. This year, Baker was the class spokesperson.

Highlights of the experience included tours of the Capitol, Library of Congress and the Supreme Court, meetings with Civic Renewal Network (CRN) staff and partners, an evening program on the 16th to celebrate the student’s accomplishments and prepare them for their presentations the next day, the Preamble Challenge at the Capitol, a Naturalization Ceremony, and a tour of the Newseum.

A special program for teachers was the roll out of the CRN’s website and a presentation by the Academy of Arts and Sciences on the problem of civic apathy and the need to engage society.

The highlights of the trip were meetings with Senator Carl Levin and Representative Sander Levin where Baker had the opportunity to present his project. “These meetings left us both feeling excited and proud of our government and the process of involvement that we, as citizens have,” said Bontomasi.

“Michael explained (his project) in detail and fielded all of Senator Levin’s questions. I have never seen a person look more proud than Michael did as we exited. As the door shut, he looked at me and beamed.” I said, “You did it.” He looked at me, stood even straighter and said, “I DID IT!”

“I could not, absolutely could NOT be prouder than I was when Michael took a deep breath, said, “OKAY!” and just ran with it,” Bontomasi said.

Constitution Day ended with an evening banquet for the students providing an exciting exchange of the day’s events and the opportunity for reflection. Finally, a debate on the Federalist Papers was the evening’s final presentation with actors representing the founding fathers.

“It was impressive to see teenagers focused on the debates of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson,” said Bontomasi.

According to Bontomasi, Baker knew from class, that he had a voice and he could use it, but this experience showed him the absolute power of his voice. Baker now knows he can exact change in a way he never thought possible before.

“Baker learned that a young man, from Madison Heights, MI., can have a conversation with his representatives in government and be genuinely heard.

“I have taught long enough to know that I have not done anything as meaningful as this. Michael and I are sincerely grateful for the opportunity and wish every teacher and every student could have an experience like this. This was one of those great standout moments in life,” said Bontomasi.


Hillary Baker, East Kentwood High School, receives National Teacher of the Year Award

September 12th, 2014 by MCCE Admin

At its annual meeting in August, the American Lawyers Alliance awarded Hillary Baker with the 2014 High School Teacher of the Year Award.

bajker-toy-award1

(pictured–Michael Browning, Hillary Baker, Andrew Merritt)

Baker is a Social Studies Instructor/Academic Instructional Coach at East Kentwood High School in Kentwood, Michigan where she is an advisor/coach for the award-winning We the People team.

According to Baker, as a political science graduate from the University of Michigan, she entered the teaching profession with a strong interest in law-related education which she felt was the best way to teach students to think critically, solve problems and to become actively engaged with their local and global communities.

With twenty years of teaching experience, Baker has developed standards-based curriculum and assessment strategies for courses in U.S. History, Criminal Law, Civics and A.P. Government and Politics. In addition to coaching We the People, Baker has been involved in many other law-related civic education programs, including Model United Nations, Teen Court, Close-Up, and Mock Trial.

To keep up to date, Baker has been involved in countless professional development opportunities, including:

•Advanced Law-Related Education graduate coursework at Michigan State University
•Supreme Court Summer Institute cosponsored by Street Law and the Supreme Court Historical Society
•Summer Institute on International Affairs, George Washington University, World Affairs Council of Washington, D.C.
•We the People professional development seminars at Hope College and the University of Michigan
•John Marshall Seminar: The Man and his Judicial Philosophy in Richmond,
Virginia
•Civitas International Civic Education Exchange Program in Usti nad Labem and Prague, Czech Republic which focused on content and strategies for preparing students for democratic citizenship.

Baker has also shared her expertise at conferences and workshops, including:

•Michigan Council of Teachers on strategies for integrating literature in social studies classrooms.
•Michigan Center for Civic Education annual Educating for Citizenship Conferences on 1) how to prepare students for the Civic persuasive writing assessment on the Michigan social studies assessment.; 2) how to teach the high school Civics content expectations focusing on the role of the United States in the world using the Choices Program.

According to Baker, much of her teaching has been focused on promoting the values and principles of citizenship, and teaching students to think critically about both national and international issues. “At a time when it seems like social science education, and specifically, civic education, has been pushed to the side it is even more necessary than ever before to equip students with the skills and knowledge it takes to be an active citizen”.

For over fifty years the American Lawyers Alliance has been active in its support of public education, citizenship awareness and various service programs. Recognizing the vital role that teachers play in law-related education, the ALA continues to sponsor its annual Teacher of the Year Awards.


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