PALO ALTO, CA (May 11, 2006) — They have all seen the inside of a courtroom on television, but tonight 6th, 7th and 8th graders from McKinley School in Redwood City will get to experience a mock courtroom drama first hand. The students are among those involved in the second year of California's only Citizen Schools' Mock Trial Program, hosted by the Silicon Valley office of McDermott Will & Emery.
The program featured three months of coaching by 11 McDermott Will & Emery lawyers, and culminating this year with the Honorable Stephen Hall presiding over the mock trial of the People of the State of California v. Johnny Milton. The mock criminal trial is based on a theft of a student’s iPod, allegedly committed by another student. The case is based on circumstantial evidence and the testimony of the school principal and the defendant.
"This program gives students a unique opportunity to see what lawyers do and how it affects their lives. They experience first-hand the importance of the U.S. judicial system," said Dan Alberti, chair of the Firm's Pro Bono Committee in the Silicon Valley office.
Once a week since February, McDermott lawyers worked with the students teaching them courtroom skills, including direct and cross examination, and opening statements and closing arguments. The lawyers participating in this project are Dan Alberti, Harper Batts, Michelle Cai, Jane Bu, Michele Moreland and Rachel Repka.
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 second Citizen Schools mock trial in California, the students working with McDermott's lawyers developed critical thinking skills, presentation strategies, legal knowledge, writing abilities and meaningful relationships with the attorneys.
About Citizen Schools
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 www.citizenschools.org/.