Home World HAST students get their day in court

HAST students get their day in court

14
0


The case told a tale as old as time and as young as reality TV: A famous director fell in love with an up-and-coming starlet, and the starlet ended up dead.

Jess Markinson, the director, was under a lot of pressure to finish his latest venture, and the fights between him and girlfriend Taylor Rodriguez were becoming more and more violent, Hammond Academy of Science and Technology Senior Nyah Hernandez presented to her class during a recent mock trial held in Lake County Circuit Court Judge Marissa McDermott’s courtroom. After a particularly nasty fight in which Markinson told Taylor he would kill her, Taylor was found dead in her car, presumably of carbon monoxide poisoning, Hernandez said.

The defense team, led by HAST Mock Trial teammate and Senior Jeremiah Hughes, said it believed there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that Taylor’s death wasn’t anything more than a suicide, with Hughes fashioning his questions to point out that the alleged abuse Taylor suffered was “a matter of opinion” and showed that her friends actions didn’t reflect people who were worried about their friend. The defense, however, was unable to shake the rest of the class’s feeling that Jess did in fact kill his girlfriend, and he was found guilty in a five-minute jury deliberation.

Hammond Academy of Science & Technology Senior Mikey Cuevas, left, square off for the defense against Jesse Cobb during a mock trial in Lake Superior Circuit Court Judge Marissa McDermott's courtroom May 14th. The HAST Mock Trial team opted to hold a trial for their final grade instead of taking an exam. (Michelle L. Quinn/Post-Tribune)
Hammond Academy of Science and Technology Senior Mikey Cuevas, left, squares off for the defense against Jesse Cobb during a mock trial in Lake Superior Circuit Court Judge Marissa McDermott’s courtroom May 14. The HAST Mock Trial team opted to hold a trial for their final grade instead of taking an exam. (Michelle L. Quinn/Post-Tribune)

The mock trial probably wasn’t as exhilarating as when the team competed at State Mock Trial competition in February in Indianapolis, but it did get Mira Projovic’s Law 1 and 2 students out of their semester final, which some of the students might argue was even better. Projovic started the Law 1 class at HAST eight years ago to teach criminal justice fundamentals, particularly the court system and legal counsel, she said.

The class ends with a mock trial, and since everything about the mock trial aspect was such a huge hit with the kids, Projovic went ahead and created Law 2, wherein the students are given a case at the start of class and then focus on rules of evidence, how to direct and cross-examine, and how to create opening and closing arguments, she said.

This year, the class, composed of 10th through 12th graders, took its skills on the road, and competing for its second time ever, the HAST Law 2 class came in fourth in regional competition, Projovic said.

“They spent a weekend in Indianapolis competing against the best of the best — schools with considerably more resources,” Projovic said. “But they held their own, and I’m crazy proud of them.”

McDermott said she’s visited HAST on several occasions to talk to the Law class and help with coaching the team, so bringing them to her courtroom felt like a great way to end a successful year, she said. Watching the students improve has been nothing short of unbelievable for the judge.

“There’s an old joke that says ‘You can’t learn to be a lawyer in law school,’ and it’s true: If you don’t get in there and do it, you won’t learn. You have to sink or swim,” McDermott said. “And it doesn’t matter whether the kids go on to become lawyers; the skills they learn here, such as responding on the fly, will serve them well whatever path they choose. It’s really quite an accomplishment.”

The adults in the room felt the class would come back with a “not guilty” verdict, especially in light of there not being a ton of evidence proving Taylor was murdered, Projovic said, but McDermott conceded that a five-minute deliberation may have skewed the outcome. Nevertheless, the kids seemed to enjoy what they were doing.

“I appreciated the seriousness with which they tackled the event. It was a legitimate feeling the whole day,” McDermott said. “The class really gave an air of credibility to the proceedings.”

Michelle L. Quinn is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.



Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here