PALO ALTO, CA (May 17, 2005) — For the past three months eight McDermott Will & Emery attorneys based in the Firm's Silicon Valley office have been serving as trial coaches to 10 sixth, seventh and eighth graders from the McKinley Institute of Technology School in Redwood City as part of the first Citizen Schools' Mock Trial Program in California. The culmination of this program will occur this evening as the Honorable Stephen M. Hall will preside over the mock trial of People v. Johnnie Milton.
Since 2000, Citizen Schools and Discovering Justice have been working together to engage the Boston legal community in a hands-on legal apprenticeship program through which small groups of students are paired with attorneys and staff from top law firms and state agencies to learn the ins and outs of the judicial system. In this first Citizen Schools mock trial in the state of California, the students working with McDermott's attorneys have developed critical thinking skills, presentation strategies, legal knowledge, writing abilities and meaningful relationships with the attorneys, a development process critical for the mock trial.
Over the past three months, McDermott lawyers worked with the students teaching them courtroom skills, including conducting depositions, direct and cross examination, and opening and closing statements. Led by Daniel Alberti, chair of the Firm's Pro Bono Committee in the Silicon Valley office, and partner Michele Moreland.
Since 1995 Citizen Schools has built a creative and effective learning model that addresses community needs while building student skills through hands-on experiential learning activities. Citizen Schools operates a national network of apprenticeship programs for youth that connects middle school students with adult volunteers in hands-on learning. At Citizen Schools, students develop the academic and leadership skills they need to do well in school, get into college, and become leaders in their careers and in their communities. Citizen Schools currently enrolls 2,000 middle-school students and engages 1,500 volunteers at 24 school campus sites in the United States. For more information visit http://www.citizenschools.org/.
The underlying facts of People v. Johnnie Milton are that a high school has determined that iPods have been ordered by fraudulently obtaining teacher's credit card numbers. All of the iPods were ordered from the athletic training room and delivered to the school mailroom. One boy is caught with one of these "stolen" iPods, and he claims a boy named Johnnie Milton sold it to him. Johnnie Milton is known to work in the school credit union that issued all of the credit cards at issue. Johnnie is also known to spend a lot of time in the school training room because of an injured ankle. Thus, in our trial, some of the students will try to prosecute Johnnie for fraudulently purchasing the iPod, and other students will try to defend Johnnie.