At Moscow School, Courtroom Legacies are a Serious Matter

The following article, written by Sunny Browning, appeared in the Moscow Pullman Daily News on February 25, 2014…

Logos School Mock Trial Team has represented Idaho since 2004. For most people, 6 a.m. on a Monday can be a little slow. For the Logos School Mock Trial Team, Monday mornings are spent in the Latah County Courthouse, debating and acting out case materials to prepare for competition. This particular mock trial program has a legacy to uphold, and it is apparent students want to keep it alive.

“It is very much engaging and interactive,” said head coach Chris Schlect, who has been coaching the team since 1996. “Students have to be poised, think on their feet and react quickly.”

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An A and a B team represent Logos. Between the two teams, the school has won the state competition yearly since 2004. “They get a fantastic experience and the great honor of representing Idaho going to nationals,” Schlect said. “When we compete at nationals we are not the Logos team, we are the Idaho Mock Trail Team.”

Hoping to continue the reign, the team has been preparing for the regional competition March 8 in Coeur d’Alene. As part of the Idaho High School Mock Trial Competition sponsored by the Law Related Education Program, the organization distributes case materials to teams in November, giving students time to emerge themselves into the fictional case. “There are over 100 pages of materials to wade through of fictitious scenarios and then we have a big fight about it in the courtroom,” Schlect said. “There are elements that resemble debate and drama. Some students are role-playing fictitious characters.” Schlect said the same packet of materials is provided to teams around Idaho and includes the same information an attorney would have to argue a case. The case is used in the regional and state competition. If the team moves on to nationals they are provided a different case to learn in the six weeks leading up to the competition.

Teams take turns representing the plaintiff side against another school representing the defense, switching roles in different rounds. “It teaches us how to think on the spot and work together as a team,” said sophomore Sofia Minudri. This is the second year Minudri has participated in mock trial. She said she doesn’t see herself being a lawyer in the future but she enjoys the speech and debate aspects of the program. “It teaches us how to be poised in awkward situations,” Minudri said.

On Saturday, the teams participated in a courtroom scrimmage against an opposing team consisting of alumni from the Logos program. Latah County Prosecuting Attorney Bill Thompson, also a team coach, stepped in to judge the case while parents and other teammates made up members of the jury and audience.

The Logos team ran as plaintiff – next Saturday they will be running defense against the alumni team to gear up for the upcoming competition.

The case they are arguing involves a fictionalized story about a riot that broke out in Twin Falls, Idaho, after a daredevil attempted to jump a motor rocket over the Snake River Canyon. After delaying the event for two hours, the daredevil failed to complete the jump. His emergency parachute deployed and he careened into the canyon, causing a growing, alcohol-infused crowd to become upset and destroy the event site. The city of Twin Falls was left to clean up the damages.

Junior Jameson Evans represented one of three members on the plaintiff side of the case, calling to the stand witnesses and providing paper work to be used as evidence. “My heart starts beating so fast,” Evans said. “Some rounds are way more intense than other rounds.” Evans has been on the Logos team for three years and said going to nationals was the best week of his life. “I love hanging out with the team,” he said. “We spend so much time together and have really good memories.”

Students have to try out for the extracurricular program, integrating debate, drama and law components. Schlect assigns students roles based on their strengths and talents. He said the team helps teach students deeply important life skills and he is incredibly proud of them each year. “Our program has developed momentum over the years,” Schlect said. “In some ways it might be the Logos School’s ‘Friday Night Lights.’ “