The 31st annual Oregon Mock Trial state competition brought 16 high school teams from as far as Baker City to hold trials at the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse in downtown Portland. Two days and three rounds winnowed the competition to two finalists: St. Mary’s Academy from Portland and Lakeridge High School from Lake Oswego. Village Home Education Resource Center came in third, and the fourth place saw a rare tie between Portland’s Grant High School and Catlin Gabel School.
First place was decided in a winner-take-all final round, with the teams flipping a coin to decide who would represent the plaintiff (Lakeridge) and the defense (St. Mary’s). U.S. District Judge Michael Simon presided. Joining him were Nkenge Harmon Johnson, president and CEO of Urban League of Portland, and Peter Richter, partner at Miller Nash Graham & Dunn. The students tried a fictional criminal case — Landry Lopez v. Buddie’s Burgers — which dealt with issues such as whistleblowing, retaliation and peer relationships.
After a two-hour-long final trial, St. Mary’s was victorious, with Lakeridge coming in second. The St. Mary’s team will now represent Oregon at the National High School Mock Trial Competition in Hartford, Connecticut, May 11-13.
“I was so impressed with the caliber of competition this year,” said Marilyn Cover, Classroom Law Project executive director. “It was wonderful to see the range of teams competing from around the state at the regional level.”
Started in 1983, Classroom Law Project brings civics and law-related education programs into Oregon schools. Each year, the project attracts nearly 900 teachers and 63,000 students statewide.