Mock Trial shows students the ins and outs of courtroom

Sophomore Lucas Hansen and Senior Dakota Church go over their strategy during Mr. Bufalinos mock trial.

Sophomore Lucas Hansen and Senior Dakota Church go over their strategy during Mr. Bufalino’s mock trial.

When Mr. Bufalino began teaching Business Law, he wanted it to be very case-driven, beginning with a broad survey of the law.

“We start with origins of legal systems and then we branch out into criminal and civil matters,” said Mr. Bufalino, in his first year here at St. Joseph. “From there we focus on the aspects that are most relevant to the business environment. About half of the class is devoted to how contracts work and our final topic includes discrimination laws in the workplace.”

As the semester was winding down, Mr. Bufalino gave his young Chargers an opportunity to make the class more engaging by staging a mock trial based on a charge of assault. Roles were assigned to cover the case for the prosecution, the defense, the defendant, witnesses, judges and jury.

“The idea was to immerse the students in the process more completely,” Mr. Bufalino added. “They had all the responsibilities for the case – its presentation and conduct, as well as the verdict.  This required that they not only learned about the facts of this case, but also knew something of the legal process. Students had varying responsibilities some of which were to help their peers understand the courtroom process for concepts such as evidence and courtroom objections.”

For their part, the students were extremely interested in the case and how trial law works.

“It was an interesting case,” commented Westchester Senior Victor Secundino. “It was challenging to be on the jury, trying to weigh the evidence.”

“It was eye-opening to see how the system works,” remarked Westchester Senior Tianna Farias. “I played a psychiatrist called to testify by the defense. I think I did well.”

Mr. Bufalino was impressed with how the Chargers handled the trial.

“The mock trial definitely met my expectations,” reflected Mr. Bufalino, “and the students took their parts very seriously while adding their own personal twist at times.  The period waiting for the verdict was probably the most animated of the semester and we had a great debate about what went well and what they might have done differently. The cases are designed to not be open and shut so it wasn’t surprising that we had a hung jury!”