Front row, from left, attorney and coach Gary Payne, Drew Ratliff, Trustin Dunse, faculty coach Laura Montgomery; middle row, from left, Laura Flatt, Carey Bohnenkamp and Annie Myers. Back: Michael Mielke, D.W. Pirtle and Madison Lobos.
ROXANA – Roxana High School’s Mock Trial Team was one of 42 teams to compete in the 32nd annual Illinois State Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitational Friday and Saturday, March 8 and 9, at the University of Illinois School of Law in Champaign.
The ten Roxana students, who were sponsored by Simmons Browder Gianaris Angelides & Barnerd LLC, were one of only two teams invited from Southern Illinois. Simmons Attorney Gary Payne served as the team’s attorney coach and RHS teacher Laura Montgomery served as their teacher coach.
“I was really impressed with the level of competence our students had with the legal material and case,” said Payne, who has coached mock trial for 15 years. “Because of the winter weather, we were over a month behind where I wanted to be in terms of preparation. These kids set their minds to it and put on an impressive performance.”
During the event, each 10-member team argued a hypothetical case developed by the ISBA Standing Committee on Law-Related Education for the Public. This year’s case was based on the “The War of the Worlds” radio broadcast in 1938.
On Halloween Eve 1938, CBS’s radio program, “Mercury Theater on the Air,” presented an interpretation of “The War of the Worlds.” A disclaimer aired at the beginning of the broadcast informing listeners that the work was fictional. Johnson and his/her cousin, Logan St. Clair, did not hear the original disclaimer or one that aired 40 minutes into the program, and believed it to be true. In the staged lawsuit, Johnson alleged CBS intentionally caused emotional distress and that he or she was now ostracized in the community because of the incident.
Students role-played the parts of attorneys and witnesses before a panel of Illinois lawyers and judges who, along with members of the ISBA Law-Related Education Committee, rated the students' performance. The students also took a written test about the issues of the case and basic legal principles.
Roxana team members Laura Flatt and Drew Ratliff role-played the case’s expert witnesses. Trustan Dunse, Maddison Lobos, D.W. Pirtle, Carey Bohnenkamp and Michael Mielke played the roles of either defendant or plaintiff attorneys. Annie Meyers served as the team’s timekeeper. Ratliff, Lobos and Bohenhap won awards for their roles as attorneys, Payne said.
“They would never have the opportunity to be a part of such an endeavor without the help of gracious people like Gary Payne and John Simmons from the Simmons Law Firm,” Montgomery said. “Roxana High School and the students are thankful to them for their commitment to legal education.”
About the Simmons firm: The Simmons firm, headquartered in Alton, is one of the country’s leading asbestos and mesothelioma litigation firms. With offices in Illinois, Missouri and California, the firm has represented more than 2,000 patients and families affected by mesothelioma in every state. The Simmons firm has pledged more than $15 million to cancer research and proudly supports mesothelioma medical researchers throughout the country in order to find a cure. For more information about the Simmons firm, visit http://www.simmonsfirm.com.