Tappan Law Club joins Wayne State students in moot court exercise

By Wendy Raymond

Ann Arbor Public Schools

Thirty Tappan Middle School students in grades 6-8 participated in college level mock trials at the Washtenaw County Courthouse last Saturday morning.

Under the supervision of Circuit Court Judge Timothy Connors and AAPS teacher Wendy Raymond, the middle school students served as witnesses and jurors in a mock law suit related to a head injury received in a car and motorcycle accident.

The judges were three members of the Washtenaw county Public Defenders office including Delphia Simpson (sister of Judge Cedric Simpson whose Washtenaw Community College students served as jurors with the police cadets and the middle students); Laura Dudley; and Elaine Spiliopoulos. Law students from Wayne State University served as lawyers.

The mock trials were part of course work required of law students at WSU in Judge Connors' classes. The same case scenario was simultaneously conducted in three separate courtrooms, and each trial resulted in a different verdict.

Outside of school and on their own time, students Sena Adjei (8), Jacob Johnson (7), and Emily Uhlmann (7), carefully studied depositions for their roles as witnesses in the cases, and were convincing and well-prepared when they testified.

The other 27 students served as jurors and took their jobs seriously, contributing significantly to discussion during deliberation. The middle school student jurors sat in the jury box with college students, and listened intently to three hours of testimony from various witnesses, and were active participants in reaching verdicts during the final hour.

Judge Connors was pleased and impressed by the intense level of engagement demonstrated by the middle school students, and has invited them to return to the courthouse for mock trials with a fresh batch of WSU law students in the spring.

The Tappan Law Club is new this fall and has had 50-60 students attending each Thursday meeting.

The club has welcomed a number of guest speakers including Washtenaw County Sheriff Department homicide detectives John Scafasci and Tom Sinks; U of M Law students; local attorneys including local Law Related Education advocates Greg Dodd, Lori Buiteweg, and Julie Beck; George Brieloff of the Washtenaw County Youth Center Juvenile Detention Program, and others.

The Tappan Law Club is the result of student requests for more law related activities and has been organized with their input under the guidance of Judge Connors, UM Law Assistant Dean of Students David Baum, and Tappan teacher Wendy Raymond.

Published: Thu, Dec 17, 2009

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