High school students in the Law and Leadership Institute at the University of Dayton have been doing a lot of work to get ready for their first Ohio Center for Law-Related Education Mock Trial Competition - where they will go head-to-head with other teams in an unscripted simulated trial.
Lauren Baker, a ninth grader at Stivers School for the Arts, has been studying legal terms and courtroom procedures to make her case.
"You have to ask the question just right or they'll object or say the wrong thing. And that's embarrassing. You don't want that to happen," Baker said.
Michaelle Avant, a third-year law student at the University of Dayton, is one of the advisors preparing the students for the district competition.
"These kids have given up extracurricular activities and scheduled around it. They've been here every Saturday as their schedules permit," Avant said. "They have a unique opportunity, and they grasp the information and they run with it. They are amazing."
Stivers School for the Arts tenth grader Tomara Dorsey enjoys being the prosecutor but is prepared for whatever role she needs to play during the competition.
"It's knowing the information, being able to apply it to this competition, and being able to explain it in a way that persuades the audience and the judges to your side," Dorsey said. "I'm just thinking about the day and being able to walk into that courtroom, stand up, know what I'm talking about, be confidant, and hopefully walking away with that trophy."
The competition will be fierce. Statewide, more than 300 teams are expected to participate in the annual Mock Trial District Competition on January 31. Winners advance to the regional competition in February. The state finals will be in March.