For the first year, GDS participated in the Mock Court Program for Washington, DC High School students hosted by The Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit. Now in its 16th year, the 2021 program offered students the opportunity to learn more deeply about constitutional precedent and specific, local cases that have been argued hinging on the interpretation of Amendments One and Four. Groups of students from participating schools worked with volunteer attorney mentors to prepare their arguments in advance of going in front of a judge.
The cases this year challenged the students to explore free versus hate speech as well as search and seizure limitations in a school setting. Held over Zoom, the mock court event itself included five schools and featured a welcome by U.S. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan.
Two classes of GDS juniors argued before U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Patricia Millett, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Naomi Rao, U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta, U.S. Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui. The judges questioned the students forcefully, ensuring that they made their cases precisely and with a detailed understanding of the particulars of the cases.
High School history teacher Sue Ikenberry said, “The mentors returned to the class the following school day to tell the students how well they thought the students had done. We got so accustomed to having the attorney mentors in the class that it seems lonely without them.”
Still, the intentional and detailed preparation strategies students learned through their participation in the mock court program will stay with them. “For the most part,” Sue added, “students found the experience exhilarating!”
High School history teacher Sue Ikenberry with juniors...