Partner, Steven Blomberg, once again, is acting as a Volunteer Judge in the Maryland State High School Mock Trial Competition. A program that is annually put on by the Maryland State Bar Association and Maryland State School System, the Mock Trial Competition has four primary objectives.
The first is to further understanding and appreciation of the rules of law, court procedures, and the legal system. This allows high school students to understand the legal process, and to, hopefully, discourage them from becoming involved in the same as defendants based on their understanding of the seriousness and gravity of legal proceedings.
The second objective is to increase proficiency in basic life skills such as listening, reading, speaking and critical thinking. The approximately 50 page handbook for this year’s competition lays out complicated fact patterns, multiple affidavits, modified statutes and laws applying to the particular case, case law, and rules of how to act in a courtroom. By analyzing all of these materials, the participating students are able to learn how to apply facts to law, and law to results. During the trials, students are graded on clarity of thought, the ability to articulate questions and answers, and their ability to view all of the miscellaneous materials as they relates to one another.
The third goal is to promote better communication and cooperation among the school system, the legal profession and the community at large. Having participated in the program for over twenty-five (25) years, Steve Blomberg has seen young people’s views of lawyers and judges change simply by participating in the program, getting to work with attorney coaches, and discussing their performance with volunteer attorneys and judge participants. The program is also another example of how members of the Maryland State Bar Association freely give their time to the community and to the education system.
Finally, the program heightens enthusiasm for academic studies, as well as clear consciousness of law-related professions. Over the years, Steve has been one to stay after the trial completely to discuss his career and career options for students interested in the law, and is fully aware that at least one student for whom he was a coach about thirty years ago from the Gaithersburg High School Trial Team now practices law in Montgomery County.
This year’s case dealt with an officer shooting of an unarmed teenager with a fact pattern that attempts to parallel the Michael Brown situation in Ferguson, Missouri. In order to allow students to concentrate more on the law and the facts rather than racial prejudice and bias, the victim of the shooting and the police officer were both of the same race. However, by using this fact situation, the students participating in the program were able to get a better understanding of various perspectives of police, community and individuals in police shootings. Hopefully, they will be able to apply these lessons in real life experiences and allow them to get a full understanding of all sides of an issue before making judgments.
Steve looks forward to continuing his participation, and he congratulates all of the students who were participants in this year’s competition.