WARSAW — “Objection, your honor!” and “We present Exhibit A” are common phrases in legal cases by those on the prosecuting and defending ends. But area students practiced saying those phrases themselves through a mock trial today, April 18, in the Kosciusko County Courthouse.
Ten students from Winona Lake and Fort Wayne homeschool programs participated in a mock trial titled “State of South Carolina vs. Barbara Barrett.” The case focuses on whether Barrett is guilty or not guilty of murdering her husband.
Winona Lake eighth-grade students Hallie Hertzler, Caden Josey, Ian Jones, Bronson Miller and Isaiah Pullin competed against the Fort Wayne team. The mock trial was divided into two rounds so that each group had the opportunity to argue from both a prosecuting and defensive standpoint. The prosecuting end argued that Barrett killed her husband out of anger due to alleged infidelity, while the defense argued that Barrett was acting in self-defense against her abusive husband.
The Classical Conversations mock trial competition is conducted as an educational exercise, with the primary objective being for students to apply analytical, rhetorical and critical thinking skills while participating in the trial. The students also learned about the importance of research and how crucial it is to find the most important facts in a large amount of information.
The students have worked on their strategies for the mock trial for 12 weeks, with supervision from Julie Josey, Winona Lake director.
Hertzler said she enjoys the prosecuting end more, but said phrasing words properly is the most difficult part of the trial.
“Figuring out the best way to phrase things without incriminating your side and helping out the other end is really important,” said Hertzler.
“I really am intrigued by the correlation between current events and short stories,” said Julie Josey. “This experience has really shown that everything, regardless of the severity of it, can be looked at in two different ways.”
In the trial, students in both groups portrayed witnesses and key figures in the case. For the first round, Hertzler played the role of the defendant, Barrett, with Caden Josey, Jones, and Pullin acting as defense attorneys.
“Acting as a witness is also very intimidating,” said Miller, who portrayed a psychologist during the trial.
Thomas O’Malley, a federal defense attorney from Fort Wayne, acted as the judge for the trial. Jurors Nick Deck, Ella Denham, Rachel Grasmick, Claire Wolfenberger and Tim Wright acted as jurors. The jurors and judge awarded points to both teams based on set criteria.