Hamline News

Mock Trial Team Brought New Experiences to Deaf and Hearing Impaired High School Students

Members of Hamline University’s Mock Trial team took time before their winter 2019 competitive season to bring the mock courtroom experience to students at the Minnesota State High School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Faribault, Minnesota.

James Upton, Nikkia Oyen, Daniel Cunningham, Frank Gustafson, Evan Robert, Abby Miller, Maddie Thieschafer, Chelsea Spriggs and Haylee Plahn worked with the high school students in an American History class with the help of sign language interpreters.

Over ten class periods the Hamline Mock Trial team members shared their expertise, reviewing trial structure, and strategies for cross-examination and closing arguments.

They helped the high school students prepare a destruction of property case that tied in themes of bullying and racism. On December 7, the younger students performed their mock trial with Hamline students acting as the witnesses. At the end of the trial, the defendant was found guilty of damaging property but was absolved of being motivated by hate. (Read all about it in this January Star Tribune article.)

Hamline’s Mock Trial Director Kelly M. Rodgers said that the collaboration allowed her students to hone their teamwork and sharpen their case-building skills because they have to teach others what they know.

This unique partnership is the second time that Hamline’s Mock Trial team has worked with high school students attending a school for the deaf. In the spring of 2018, Hamline students collaborated with Metro Deaf School (MDS) in St Paul. They conducted a Mock Trial with four high school students in an elective class.

Rodgers began Hamline’s outreach to schools for the deaf. Working with a high school fit the student’s social justice inclinations. When her own daughter was born with a hearing impairment, she became attuned to the educational opportunities afforded children with hearing related disabilities.

“Mock Trial is fun. It teaches life-long skills including team work, critical reasoning and public speaking that hearing impaired students can use,” said Rodgers. “Presenting in front of others builds confidence that they can take with them.”

“Hamline students learn to navigate interpreters, which is a valuable experience for them as well,” Rodgers said.

Hamline’s Mock Trial program starts in August. Members compete in a robust tournament schedule through the fall. In the fall of 2018, Hamline teams of 30-70 students competed in seven different tournaments.

During the competitive season, which begins in January, three Hamline teams will compete in three tournaments. Regional competition begins in February and includes a tournament on Hamline’s campus on February 22-24. Next, winners move on to the Open Round Championship Series. The top teams from those tournaments head to the National Championship tournament, a tournament Hamline hosted in 2018 for the third time.

For more information, see the Mock Trial website.


Written by Staff