Members of the Hudson High School Mock Trial team tackled the constitutional rights of cell phone users Oct. 21 in the courtroom of Summit County Common Pleas Judge Tammy O'Brien.
The HHS Mock Trial team allows students to act as lawyers, witnesses and other participants in the legal process. It spends most of the year preparing for district and regional competitions in February in Akron, and for the state competition in March in Columbus, according to first-year adviser Sarah Hulburt.
Hulburt, a defense attorney, has enlisted the help of attorneys and judges to prepare students.
O'Brien welcomed the team to her courtroom Oct. 21 for a mock case involving Global Positioning System information obtained from a suspect's cell phone without a warrant. The case teaches students about Fourth Amendment rights regarding searches and seizures, Hulbert said.
"Our goal is to do a scrimmage in front of a different judge every month until the competition," she said. "Trial work is the most challenging [for a lawyer]. You have to think on your feet and do a lot of impromptu work. You can't memorize things."
The students practice two or three times a week, and their goal is to win a state championship. Hudson won the state competition three years ago.
The Oct. 21 case pitted the prosecuting team of juniors John Douglass and Ben Tiemann, who defended the use of the GPS information, against the defense team of junior Sydney Bender and senior Aaron Burne, who asked the judge to throw out the evidence.
"I've learned a lot about how to cross examine a witness," Sydney said. "There's a lot more involved to being a defense attorney than I thought. You have to be personable and communicate so the jury will vote in your favor."
Aaron said the experience has taught him how to think on his feet.
"You need to be creative in a moments notice to be a defense attorney," he said.
Sophomore Ethan Cravener portrayed the defendant, a college freshman accused of stealing drugs from a real estate open house.
Witnesses included a police detective portrayed by sophomore Kelley Tauring, a GPS expert portrayed by sophomore Kristin Van Deusen, a real estate agent portrayed by sophomore Michael Spaans, a victim portrayed by sophomore Audrey Torrence, a privacy rights representative portrayed by sophomore Carolyn Turkaly, and a GPS engineer portrayed by junior Zohaib Zafar.
O'Brien awarded the trial to the prosecuting team, advising the students to "establish the relevant facts but give legal arguments."
In addition, O'Brien gave a demonstration on leading questions, which the attorneys need to avoid, and how to establish relationships before questioning a witness.
Hulburt compared mock trials to sporting events; both require training and practice.
"Students can't get nervous or stressed in a courtroom, and the only way to get used to it is to do a mock trial in a real courtroom setting," Hulburt said.
Hulburt graduated from Hudson High School in 2004 and attended the University of Akron, where she obtained her law degree in 2009. She had 120 cases last year.
"I'm in court every day," Hulburt said. "I love the area and wanted to build a career in Hudson and Summit County. Standing up in a trial is most exhilarating thing I've ever done."
When Hulburt interviewed students for the team, she looked for confidence, the ability to express themselves and good eye contact.
Summit County Court of Common Pleas Judge Alison McCarty is the chairperson of the Summit County mock trial program, which is sponsored by the Akron Bar Association.
About 20 teams compete at the district competition in February, she said.
"It's like a huge pep rally with the screaming and cheering about the law," McCarty said. "It's exciting. That's why I keep doing it."
(Article by Laura Freeman originally posted at http://www.hudsonhubtimes.com/news/article/5114340.)