Mharion (Miles) Mance, Staff Writer

Hillcrest is the home of some interesting, interactive, and engaging classes. One of these is Criminal Law.

This class is taught by Ms. Snyder. According to our elective fair video, this class:
● explores the inner workings of the criminal justice system in the United States; including law-enforcement, the judicial system, and corrections.
● Informs students about the different career possibilities available in the criminal justice and legal fields
● Cover various topics such as: probable cause, police searches, the court system, and classifications of crimes.

There was also something else this class is known for, the mock trial. A mock trial is a simulation trial where teams work together—either as the prosecution or the defense—to prove their case. This year, the mock trial was held on Monday, December 13th in the IMC. The case that was heard is The People v Markson.

Riley Russell is dead. Jordan Markson is on trial. Grandma’s pills are gone. The official “Statement of the Case” explains it this way:
“On June 5, 2020 Riley Russell, Blake Stevens and Jordan Markson decided to spend the night drinking, playing video games and eating pizza at Jordan’s grandmother’s house while she was on vacation. At some point during the night, Riley ingested prescription medication belonging to Jordan’s grandmother. Riley became unconscious and was unable to be revived by paramedics. The State has charged Jordan Markson with providing the drugs that killed Riley Russell to Riley and for possessing a controlled substance. Jordan has pleaded not guilty to both charges.” There are additional interesting details that are going to make this a very interesting case.

Students in Snyder, Schodrof & Kaczmarek’s classes participated. With this mock trial, Schodrof’s defense team went against Snyder’s prosecution, and Snyder’s defense team went against Schodrof’s prosecution. Each student was given an assignment as an attorney or a witness. Two students also served as judges during the trial, and a few other students without assignments served as the jury.

I had an opportunity to sit in Ms. Snyder’s class the Wednesday before the trial to see the preparation process. First, I noticed students were separated based on whether they were “Lead Attorneys,” “Witnesses,” etc. I was allowed to sit with the lead attorneys who were going over
case information and familiarizing themselves with the details. “Can an overdose cause lungs to collapse?” asks David Brisco, a Lead Defense Attorney. It’s an important question considering the charges Jordan Markson is facing. However, Brisco is confident of his victory, “He’s going home.” he tells Lead Prosecutor Damaus Viverette while referring to the defendant Jordan Markson. Other attorneys go over witness statements looking for any “discrepancies” that they can utilize in their case. For example, one attorney pointed out that a witness says “I think” a lot, which can cause the jury to doubt the witness. Thus this mock trial was shaping up to be very exciting!

On the day of the trial, the jury was selected and the session began. First up was Schodrof’s prosecution and Snyder’s defense. Opening statements were first. Opening statements allowed for each team to remark on their key arguments, informing the jury of things they wanted them to know before they started. Then the prosecution called their witnesses asked their questions and afterwards the defense was allowed to “cross examine” or ask their questions. Finally, the prosecution is allowed to “redirect” or ask questions to invalidate those asked by the defense. David Brisco put on an especially commanding performance which led to Snyder’s defense winning their round. In the next round, Snyder’s prosecution went against Schodrof’s defense. Damaus Viverette and Amina Viden with the help of an emotional performance by Mharion Mance as the medical examiner won their round.

If you’re interested in participating in the mock trial or taking Criminal Law, talk to one of the mentioned teachers or your counselor about taking the class!