The mock trial team from Merrill Middle School in Des Moines won the 2017 Iowa Middle School Mock Trial State Championship on Wednesday, Nov. 29 in Des Moines. The state runner-up team was from Harlan Middle School.
The two teams competed after several days of preliminary rounds, which brought students from 34 teams around the state to the Iowa Events Center to compete. In the 2017 championship round, the students argued a criminal murder case in front of District 5C Judge David Porter, and a group of ISBA members, including ISBA President Steve Eckley and YLD President Tom Hillers, who served as scoring judges.
It's the first time a Des Moines public middle school has won the state championship. Click here for a complete look at the 2017 results. Those results also include information about students recognized as outstanding attorneys or witnesses by the judges. Nicholas Jackson, from Merrill Middle School, received the rare recognition for both "Outstanding Attorney" and "Outstanding Witness" in the 2017 competition.
The Iowa Middle School Mock Trial Program is the largest in the nation. Each fall, students in grades 6-8 are presented with a challenging legal problem and set out to prepare and present both sides of the case to a panel of volunteer lawyers and judges.
Since 1983, the Iowa Mock Trial Program has given thousands of students the opportunity to get a close-up look at the judicial process. The Iowa program remains among the largest in the nation, and one of very few to offer the mock trial experience to middle school students. In recent years, close to 3,500 students in grades 6-12 participated in mock trial competitions each year. You can learn more on the ISBA Mock Trial webpage.