Middle School Mock Trial competition is big in Iowa. This year was its 31st year in existence, and the process began with over 170 teams competing statewide. This participation makes it the largest mock trial competition in the nation. The entire process is organized and supported by the Iowa Bar Association. The top 32 teams are selected to go to state, and Maquoketa Middle School Mock Trial had a state-qualifying team, our first in over 20 years.
No competition can exist without the dedication of coaches who spend hours preparing students for the rigors of mock trial. They are truly the unsung heroes of a team’s success.
The mock trail competition is run just like a courtroom with defense and prosecutors, lawyers and witnesses, judges and courtroom etiquette. A courtroom situation is given for a team to develop both offense and defense related to the topic. Through the years the topic has varied: a bedbug case, accident related to the shooting of a hot dog gun, and this year’s case – a head injury and concussion due to soccer.
The process is professional and allows students to develop confidence and self-expression. It was amazing to watch middle school students display eloquence and poise as they made their case in front of real-life lawyers serving as the judges. The top two winning mock trial teams are given an opportunity to battle their final courtroom scene in the Iowa Supreme Court building along with meeting real supreme court justices. Mock Trail competition makes a “case” for the importance of clear and concise communication – a lifelong skill we all could use.