Mock Trial Weekend

Hey – it’s Jillian but I changed my WordPress name to Author. Mysterious, huh? Hahaha

When I applied to law school, one of my goals in life was to first be a prosecutor and then eventually become a judge in the criminal law area. Life didn’t work out that way, first, because once I actually was in law school, I found that I didn’t want to prosecute but would rather be a criminal defense lawyer. I know that sounds odd but when I read some of these cases and found out about quite a lot of injustices, I decided that I could do more good helping individuals than being part of the prosecution- although the victim advocacy part of that appealed to me as well. Initially, I still wanted that judgeship.

As my career progressed, I was told by a number of people that I should definitely apply for a judgeship and I seriously thought about it a few times but I also found that I really didn’t want to let go of being a player in the courtroom. Judges do an awful lot of sitting and listening. They aren’t litigators and have to watch lawyers maybe getting it wrong and doing more harm than good for their clients. As time went on, I became more and more sure that being a state court criminal law judge wasn’t really for me. My practice eventually moved away from criminal defense and into other areas.

This past weekend, I was asked to be a judge for a regional (Ala, Fla, Ga, & Miss) mock trial competition at the local university. It was a great experience and I loved seeing the students present their case and argue the facts before me as the trier of fact. It was hard not to say anything when they didn’t quite get things right and boy, when they put the defendant on the stand, that really almost made me crazy (right against self-incrimination, anyone?) but I maintained my demeanor and didn’t go into orbit. LOL – I did get a chance at the end to critique them orally as well as making written comments as we went along that they will get to read later. I like to think I helped them some in gaining confidence in what they are doing.

What did I learn from this experience? One was that we have a sharp group of young people ready to head to law school and make a difference in the world but the most important thing I learned about myself is that I made the right decision in not going for that state court criminal judgeship as I really am, at heart, a litigator. I love the courtroom and I love to try cases. Being the trier of fact is way more restrictive than I liked and it was super hard not to open my mouth. LOL

What did you do this weekend?

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10 responses to “Mock Trial Weekend

  1. A friend’s daughter did the mock-trial thing and it was all-consuming for them during the process. It’s a pretty huge thing, I gather. By the end, she’d validated that her strength was in writing briefs, which she’s always enjoyed doing.
    Kudos to you for volunteering for this. That took a huge chunk of your time, right? And also well done on the reinforcement that you make the right professional choices. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I imagine that it does take a lot of time. These students were well prepared and quite astonishingly had memorized huge chunks of material. Of course, in the real world, we never get that kind of time to have every fact memorized. Lol.

      It was fun and didn’t really take a lot of time. The trials were this weekend and only three hours each. They had to fit all their case in the time allotted.

      and yeah! I’m glad my career choices were validated. I’m constantly getting asked when I’m going to be a judge and habit to say I don’t want that.

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  2. It is good to be able to look back and know that you took the right road. Sometimes hindsight gives us a much different view. And it sounds like your recent event was challenging, and educational for you as well as contributing to others. So many volunteer positions do that for us in that we get more than we give.

    So a new name huh? I saw that but of course didn’t recognize you. At least you have Jillian in your tags.

    • Amen for getting more than we give. This was completely one of those situations. And I did take the right path for sure.

      Yep. Tagged myself to keep less confusion. Lol

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  3. Valerie J. Patterson

    Mock trials are a huge thing here in the county where I live. The university hosts them every year, and the bar association participates. We have one for high schoolers considering a career in the legal system. They always do a great job. Kudos to you for your participation, Jillian, and giving of your time. You never know, you may have had a larger impact on one of the students than you think! ๐Ÿ˜›

    • They’re wonderful tools for the students for sure, Valerie. The high schools also have teams. It was a lot of fun and very interesting. Thanks for the kudos. I was thrilled to be asked to participate AND to be asked back next time.

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  4. A fascinating post, Jillian, and I can feel your passion for your job. It’s good to know the future will be in safe hands and that you have faith in those students and see their potential. It must have been an enormously satisfying experience.

    • Thanks Tricia. I really am passionate about the law. I love it. And yes, those students had some real potential. Three of them in particular. If was a wonderful experience and I’m thrilled that I was invited back next year.

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  5. Most interesting post, Valerie. Perhaps there is a new role for you presiding over more mock trials in universities? ๐Ÿ™‚ You certainly sound as though you enjoyed every moment. It’s good though, isn’t it, when a situation validates a decision one makes years ago. Far better than the “if only” scenario.

  6. Jillian Chantal

    Lol, Kit. I don’t think I’d want to do that mock trial judging more than once a year. It was fun but not that much fun. Hehehe. And yeah, better to be validated than regret. Jillian

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