SEARCH Trial Day is a Mental Exercise
Court was in session earlier this month when fifth grade SEARCH program students participated in Trial Day at Woodhull Intermediate School in Huntington. Ten seniors from Huntington High School social studies teacher Debbora Mellon's Advanced Placement Government class were chosen to participate in the special event, acting as judges, mentors and coaches to the SEARCH students involved in the courtroom sessions.
Seniors Tom Hardardt, Holly Blakley, Natalie Acton, Matthew Petryk, Michelle Rosenbauer, Justin LoScalzo, Samantha Palmer, Andrew Ku, Holly Flores and Nitika Shah were personally selected for the daylong program by SEARCH chairperson-teacher Maryann Daly, who remembered the teenagers from years earlier when they themselves participated in the very same Trial Day initiative.
Mrs. Daly said that 35 SEARCH students spent 10 weeks preparing to act as lawyers and witnesses in the case, "Terry Vickers, Plaintiff v. Sandy Hearst, Defendant."
"The trial involved a model who was severely injured by a college student named Dana Ivy, who had left Hearst's get-together on a late December night," Mrs. Daly explained. "Dana was driving with no headlights on and was charged with DUI by the police officer who was at the scene of this serious car accident. Hearst, the adult and host of the party Dana had just left, was accused of violating the Alcohol Beverage Control Law and negligently providing and serving alcohol to minors (Ivy and friends) at the get-together. Vickers was suing for pain and suffering and loss potential earnings."
The plaintiff teams prevailed despite defense counsel objecting many times to try to break the line of questioning under cross examination. The Woodhull students were animated and knew their roles. They did go off script many times to defend their stories or answer questions posed.
The high school seniors had their work cut out for them because they had to rule in favor or against the many objections the young lawyers were voicing throughout the trial. Huntington parents filled the two trial rooms and watched as their children cleverly presented their case to the judges.
"Mock trial has been a vital part of the SEARCH program for many years and this year again proved its long lasting impact and value," Mrs. Daly said. "It was a great day of learning for all who participated."