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Making Civics Real Workshop 8: Rights and Responsibilities of Students  
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Workshop 7

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About the National High School Mock Trial Championship
by National High School Mock Trial Championship, Inc.

The national mock trial championship was initiated in 1984 in Des Moines, Iowa, with teams from Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin participating. After the success of the tournament in Iowa, more states became interested in participating and the tournament became billed as an "All-State" Tournament. The competition then moved to Nebraska and involved 10 states. Subsequent tournaments have been held in Arizona, Washington, D.C., Texas, Kentucky, Oregon, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Georgia, Illinois, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and New Mexico. The tournament is hosted annually by different states to ensure that the cost of running the tournament doesn't fall on the same state more than once.

As the interest in the "All-State" tournament grew, so did the need to restructure the tournament. In 1989, an executive board was established for the purpose of organizing and developing continuity in the structure of the tournament. The tournament's official name was changed to the "National High School Mock Trial Championship," to reflect the "national" nature of the program and to encourage more states to participate. In 1990, the competition was formally incorporated, and the Federal Rules of Evidence were implemented in 1991. An average of 34 states and two territories regularly participate. Past winning teams have come from virtually every corner of the United States. The national executive board consists of states that have sponsored the national tournament in the past and those who have committed to hosting the tournament in the near future. In addition, it created a member-at-large position for anyone who wishes to participate on the Board regardless of whether their state will ever host the national championship. Several states presently hold positions on the national board, and various board members serve as mock trial coordinators. Individual state mock trial coordinators also provide support.

Goals of the National High School Mock Trial Championship
The goals of the National High School Mock Trial Championship, Inc., are:

  • to promote greater understanding of and appreciation for the law, court procedures, and the American judicial system.
  • to improve basic life skills, such as critical thinking, reading, speaking, and advocacy.
  • to improve communication and cooperation among key community members, including schools, teachers, government leaders, law professionals, and citizens.
  • to heighten appreciation for the principle of equal justice for all.
  • to promote an awareness of current legal issues.
  • to promote the exchange of ideas among students from throughout the United States while providing a rewarding and memorable experience of interaction.

Competition Rules and Scoring
The National High School Mock Trial Championship is governed by the Rules of the Competition and the National High School Mock Trial Rules of Evidence. Any clarification of rules or case materials will be issued in writing to all participating teams no less than two weeks prior to the tournament. The trial coordinator, upon the advice and consent of the Board of Directors of the National High School Mock Trial Championship, will distribute to each team any such clarification.

No host state may alter the language of these rules without the approval of the National High School Mock Trial Championship Board of Directors; however, the Rules of Evidence may be reviewed for relevance, and rules may be added or deleted, so long as the language inserted is the original text contained in the Federal Rules of Evidence.

All teams are responsible for the conduct of persons associated with their teams throughout the mock trial event.

Rule 1.1. Rules
All trials will be governed by the Rules of the National High School Mock Trial Competition and the National High School Mock Trial Rules of Evidence.
Questions or interpretations of these rules are within the discretion of the Board of Directors of the National High School Mock Trial Championship, Inc. (“National Board”), whose decision is final.

Rule 1.2. Code of Conduct
The Rules of Competition, as well as proper rules of courthouse and courtroom decorum and security, must be followed. The National Board possesses discretion to impose sanctions, up to and including forfeiture or disqualification, for any misconduct, flagrant rule violations, or breaches of decorum which affect the conduct of a trial or which impugn the reputation or integrity of any team, school, participant, court officer, judge, or the mock trial program.

Rule 1.3. Emergencies
During a trial, the presiding judge shall have discretion to declare an emergency and adjourn the trial for a short period of time to address the emergency. In the event of an emergency that would cause a team to be unable to continue a trial or to participate with less than six members, the team must notify the National Board as soon as is reasonably practical. If the Board, or its designee(s), in its sole discretion, agrees that an emergency exists, the Board, or its designee(s), shall declare an emergency and will decide whether the team will forfeit or may direct that the team take appropriate measures to continue any trial round with less than six members. A penalty may be assessed.

A forfeiting team will receive a loss and points totaling the average number of the ballots and points received by the losing teams in that round. The non-forfeiting team will receive a win and an average number of ballots and points received by the winning teams in that round.

Final determination of emergency, forfeiture, reduction of points, or advancement, will be made by the Board.

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