A student playing an attorney cross examines a student playing an elderly witness during the mock trial.

Each year, Criminal Justice juniors at Robert H. Gibson Technical School in Troy participate in a mock trial, one of their largest projects of the year. This year’s mock trial was based on a 1998 case out of Gloversville, NY. The case involved an elderly victim who was tied to a chair and suffocated, with two teenage boys being tried in the case.

Students were divided into two opposing teams, prosecutor or defendant. Criminal Justice instructor Amy Gillet presided over the courtroom as judge, and students from the Criminal Justice senior class played the role of the jury and provided the final verdict.

A student playing a witness gives his testimony as the student jury listens.

Over the course of two months, each group developed witnesses, evidence and practiced their testimonies. While groups had the opportunity to work on their side of the case, the opposing side had no idea what would be brought to the courtroom. The opposing side could then cross-examine each witness, but they needed to think quick on their feet. This brought some interesting (and sometimes comical) situations into the courtroom, including the editing of celebrity photos, an elderly woman with 47 cats and reports of an affair.

In addition to student’s playing the role of attorney’s, they also acted as a variety of witnesses for the case, including detectives, medical examiner, forensic experts, psychologists, family, friends, neighbors and more. Students dressed the parts of their character and sold their testimony to the jury. Evidence provided included photos from the crime scene, hair, fingerprints, statements and more.

In the end, the defendant was found guilty by the senior class jurors!

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