North Point’s mock trial team learns from ex­perts

Maryland Independent - - Front Page -

Cur­rent and prospec­tive mem­bers of North Point High School’s mock trial team went on a field trip last month to the U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the Armed Forces in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease. The trip started with a quick history of the court. It is not mil­i­tary court, but made of a panel of civil­ian judges. While all cur­rent judges have served in the mil­i­tary, it is not a re­quire­ment to be a judge in the court.

Af­ter the over­view of the court and its pro­ce­dures, the stu­dents ob­served the court in ac­tion and wit­nessed oral ar­gu­ments from a case pre­sented to the judges. Anna New­ton, the mock trial team’s spon­sor and coach, met with Judge John E. Sparks and dis­cussed many top­ics, but mostly about the team’s ac­com­plish­ments this past sea­son, the stu­dents and their goals, the re­lease states.

The stu­dents met with Sparks in his cham­bers to talk about the history and role of the court, the law, Sparks’s ex­pe­ri­ences in the mil­i­tary and the le­gal field. Sparks also gave ad­vice and words of wis­dom to the stu­dents. Sparks stated that life is an in­ter­sec­tion of op­por­tu­nity and prepa­ra­tion. You never know when op­por­tu­nity will hap­pen — it will hap­pen at some point, but if you work on be­ing pre­pared at all times, then you will be able to take ad­van­tage of those op­por­tu­ni­ties as they present them­selves, Sparks said. While he stated that he was “not a wise man,” he gave ad­vice based on his ex­pe­ri­ences and stated that he “just hap­pened to walk the Earth longer” than ev­ery­one else in the room.

Sparks said he grew up dur­ing the Civil Rights era and the in­equal­ity faced by mi­nori­ties dur­ing the time in­spired him to go into law. Asked if he ever had an is­sue with de­fend­ing a guilty per­son, Sparks said he never asked a client if he was guilty or not. He saw guilt as ir­rel­e­vant be­cause guilty or not, it was his job to make sure his client got a fair trial.

Most mock trial mem­bers at North Point had some in­ter­est in the law be­fore com­ing on the trip, but as a re­sult of this trip, they have an in­creased pas­sion and ex­cite­ment for it, New­ton said. Al­most all of the mock trial team mem­bers said they would en­ter the le­gal field in some way.

Stu­dents who at­tended the trip in­cluded se­nior Bri­anna Baker, ju­niors Kennedy Har­ris, Kyle Smith, Jhanna Mal­don­ado, Na­dia Cor­bett and Jessica Spencer, and sopho­mores Apryle Ben­nett and Alexis Lepe.

Judge John E. Sparks, a judge with the U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the Armed Forces, left, met with mem­bers of North Point High School’s mock trial team dur­ing a re­cent field trip. The stu­dents were ac­com­pa­nied by teacher Anna New­ton, a coach for the team.

SUB­MIT­TED PHO­TOS

North Point High School’s mock trial team re­cently took a field trip to Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and met with law pro­fes­sion­als. Team mem­bers pic­tured are Kennedy Har­ris, left, Kyle Smith, Bri­anna Baker, Apryle Ben­nett and Alexis Lepe.

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