Each spring, the MSBA has traditionally organized mock trials in Superior and District Court courtrooms throughout Maine for competing classes of fifth-graders, who are coached in their classrooms by volunteer lawyers. Under their teachers' tutelage and with the volunteer lawyers' assistance, these 10- and 11-year-olds memorize their roles in MSBA-authored trial play scripts based on well known fables and children's stories. The fifth-graders play all the parts: judge, attorneys, witnesses, court officials, jurors. Through direct and cross-examination of witnesses and rulings from the bench, they learn about the workings of the law first-hand, and since there is no script for jury deliberations, verdicts are never known beforehand. The MSBA believes these mock trials help participating children develop critical thinking and public speaking skills, as well as build self-confidence.
In 2003, a radically tightened state judiciary budget prevented the fifth grade mock trials from being held in actual courtrooms. The resulting shift to classrooms, however, has made this annual program more flexible, allowing teachers to schedule mock trials to fit their curricula, as well as making it possible for many more schools to participate in the program. For more information contact email@example.com.
To download Mock Trial materials, click here.