Friday, March 7, 2014

Prof. Fortson volunteers at statewide mock trial competition for high school students

L to r: Volunteer evaluators Sharon Marshall, D.A.'s Office
and Prof. Fortson listen to opening argument.
Prof. Ryan Fortson, J.D., Justice faculty, is the State Coordinator for the Alaska High School Mock Trial Competition. At this year's 25th annual competition, he was one of 70 judges, lawyers, and non-lawyer volunteers for the event held in Anchorage at the Boney Courthouse on February 27 - March 1.  The competition is sponsored by the Young Lawyers Section of the Anchorage Bar Association, the Law Related Education Committee of the Alaska Bar Association, and the Alaska Court System.

Judge Jennifer Stuart Henderson, District Court, swears in witnesses.
The Alaska High School Mock Trial Competition consists of teams of 6 to 9 high school students competing in simulated trials based on a fictional problem drafted by the competition organizers. Nearly 50 students from 7 schools in Anchorage, Sitka, North Pole, and Wasilla participated. The West Anchorage High School team prevailed over Sitka High School in the finals and will go on to compete in the National High School Mock Trial Competition in Wisconsin in May.

Magistrate Judge Suzanne Cole waits for the cross-examination of a witness.
Each year, the preliminary rounds are judged by attorneys from the Anchorage legal community, and the semifinals and finals are judged by sitting and retired judges from the Alaska and Federal Court Systems.

In addition to volunteers at the event, high school teachers and lawyers volunteered to coach teams in preparation for the competition. Volunteer lawyer coaches included Florina Altshiler, District Attorney's Office, Anchorage and Jude Pate, Public Defender Agency, Sitka.

Organizers for the competition included Lars Johnson, Alaska Public Defender Agency; Kimberly Tsaousis, Office of Public Advocacy; Brittany Goodnight, Alaska Public Defender Agency; and Bonnie Calhoun, Alaska District Court Law Clerk.

L to r: Organizers - Brittany Goodnight, Public Defender Agency;
Bonnie Calhoun, District Court Law Clerk; Kimberly Tsaousis,
Office of Public Advocacy; Lars Johnson, Public Defender Agency