The Jesuit Academy sixth grade class visited the Creighton University School of Law on Wednesday, March 5 to participate in a mock trial. As part of a collaborative effort with the Street Law program through the Creighton Law School, mock trial is the culminating project of the partnership. For the past four weeks, Creighton law students Arielle Balyeat and Patrick Tarr, both enrolled in Street Law, have visited Jesuit Academy to speak to the class about the law profession, as well as assist with their preparation of the trial.
This is the third year Jesuit Academy has participated in mock trial. Mr. Mike Mansour, sixth grade teacher, incorporates the project into his reading class. Based on student strengths and with the assistance of the Creighton law students, Mansour selected students for each role necessary for a successful mock trial. Students created statements and questions for the trail, which were refined during class time with the assistance of Balyeat and Tarr. Several additional Jesuit Academy faculty members also assisted with the program.
This year’s scenario involved a complaint brought against a principal by a family whose son had his cellphone confiscated during a school assembly and searched after a threatening message appeared on the screen. In question was the principal’s right to search the phone, given that he did not call the family for permission. His team argued that as the confiscation occurred during the last period of the day and the threat of violence was to occur after school, swift action was needed to assess the threat.
Students representing both the plaintiff and the defense began the mock trial with opening statements, following by the questioning of witnesses. Closing statements were also presented. Family members of Jesuit Academy students, as well as Creighton Law students, served as the jury.
In the end, the jury found the principal’s actions to be justified, given the responsibility of safety of the school and the students. Following the verdict, Professor Mangrum, the Creighton law professor who served as the judge, reviewed with the class how this type of case would be tried as a civil action suit.
Mock trial and the partnership with Creighton Law School provide Jesuit Academy with experiences aimed at challenging both student thinking and their understanding of the world. Jesuit Academy would like to thank the Creighton University Law School, Dr. Strand of the Street Law Program, Professor Mangrum, and law students Arielle Balyeat and Patrick Tarr for their assistance in making this opportunity possible for students.