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Visitation Students Present Arguments Before DC Superior Court Judge in Mock Trial Program

On Thursday, March 2, eight young women traded their green kilts for power suits and headed to DC Superior Court to present their arguments before Honorable Robert Okun as part of a mock court program.

Hosted by the Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit, “This popular program provides juniors and seniors in high school with the opportunity to learn about constitution law issues in the school context, and then to prepare and present 5-minute arguments to judges of the federal court based upon two different fact patterns involving school disciplinary decisions that present first and fourth amendment issues.”

Participants Peggy Lannan ‘24, Eliza Shearer ‘24, Majidah Ogbulu ‘25, Maggie Campione ‘26, Charlotte Sands ‘26, Rachel Brandon ’26, Allison Bogley ‘26, and Ava Mejia ‘26 are members of  Visitation’s Mock Court Club, which is moderated by Ms. Elizabeth Silver, J.D., a member of the Class of 2001 and Visitation’s history department. Each student was assigned to represent either the Henderson, et al. or South D.C. High School in a mock trial based on a real case centered on fourth amendment rights.

In preparation, students reviewed the case as well as precedents in T.L.O. v. New Jersey, Riley v. California, J.W. v. Desoto County School District, and United States v. White. Each student prepared their own statement of the case, summary of their position, and arguments in support of their position. During their presentation, Judge Okun asked probing questions about their assertions, testing their understanding of the case law and rationale for their position.

After each student had had her day in court, Judge Okun proffered his assessment of their performance, saying, “All of you did an excellent job.” He noted that all of Visitation’s students were poised, articulate, and prepared and should be proud.

Judge Okun offered particular commendation to Maggie Campione, upon whom he bestowed the Outstanding Advocate Award, citing how she spoke slowly and clearly, made good eye contact, and addressed the issues at hand substantively. (Readers interested in seeing her in action can catch her performing as Wednesday Addams in Gonzaga’s production of The Addams Family this weekend and next.)

In closing remarks for the day's program, Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell outlined key lessons that all participating students will take away from the day's exercises: the importance of listening; the value of credibility born of honesty; and the benefits of acknowledging your opponent's position. 

Kudos to all of Visitation’s advocates!