Bar News - April 20, 2007
Bishop Guertin Wins Mock Trial
Bishop Guertin High School argued its way to the state championship at the mock trial finals held March 30, 2007, at the Hillsborough County Courthouse in Manchester.
In its second state win, the Bishop Guertin team, coached by teachers Brian Jackson and Peter Champagne, and attorney Shane McLaughlin, defeated Manchester West, Milford and Souhegan high schools and took home the winner’s plaque, which displays a judge’s gavel. In addition, Bishop Guertin will represent New Hampshire at the annual national competition in Dallas, May 10-12.
Amherst Middle School, coached by teacher Richard Vassar, competed against Milford, Great Brook and Alton Central in the middle school competition, also taking home a winner’s plaque for their school. Manchester West took second place in the high school division, with Milford as the middle school runner-up. Both second-place teams received special recognition and plaques as well.
To help them get ready for mock trial competitions, students are furnished with a set of facts and then must prepare both sides of a case. Following the basic rules of evidence, they fill both the roles of attorneys and witnesses in trials presided over by members of the NH Bar Association. Eventually, there are eight finalists, four in each division (high school and middle school), and teams representing either the defense or the prosecution go head-to-head throughout the day of the finals.
At the nationals, the Bishop Guertin team will face teams from the United States, Northern Marianas, Guam and South Korea. They will argue a mock multimillion dollar liability case. The scenario is based on a catastrophic explosion that occurred on a freighter loaded with ammonium sulfate in Texas City in 1947. The accident killed nearly 500 people and caused massive damage to the community.
New Hampshire’s Mock Trial competition, coordinated by the NHBA Law-Related Education (LRE) department, takes place in one of the few states where the competitions are conducted in actual courthouses. Members of the Bar, including judges and lawyers, volunteer as presiding and scoring judges or as coaches for teams. A panel of volunteers also acts as jurors, evaluating and scoring each team’s performance.
The competition is supported with funding from the New Hampshire Bar Association and the New Hampshire Bar Foundation, which provides major support through an IOLTA grant for NHBA LRE. In addition, the Bar Foundation presents the winning high school team with $1,000 to help them with the expenses of traveling to the finals. The rest of the money is raised by the students themselves and donations are gladly accepted. Anyone who would like to contribute may go to www.bghs.org and click on Mock Trial.
Judges at the finals this year included NH Supreme Court Justice Gary Hicks, and District Court judges Gerard Boyle and L. Phillips Runyon and long-time supporter of the NHBA Law-Related Education program, NH Supreme Court General Counsel Howard Zibel.
Attorneys Martin Bender, Diane Fenton, Dan Fleming, Elizabeth Hurley, Mark Larsen, Tracy McGraw, Patricia Peard, Michael Pearson, Esther Piszek, Dennis Thivierge, and Lisa Wellman-Ally and NHBA Executive Director Jeannine McCoy also assisted in judging the competition.