(November 20, 2004) -- A student team from LB's Wilson Classical High School is among the "final four" in a prestigious academic tournament being held by the Constitutional Rights Foundation of Los Angeles -- a mock trial competition in which teams from across L.A. County present cases in a courtroom before volunteer judges and attorneys.
Playing the roles of attorneys, witnesses and court personnel in a fictional case, students present dueling arguments on constitutional issues in the downtown L.A. County Courthouse, experiencing the atmosphere of a real trial.
Wilson High team member Alex Lancaster -- who also serves as Co-Editor in Chief of Wilson's campus newspaper The Loudspeaker -- tells LBReport.com, "Our team has worked very hard this year and we are proud of how far we've been able to advance."
Mr. Lancaster says team members practice at least two hours (and sometimes more) three to five days a week, after school on their own time.
This year's mock trial competition involves the fictional case of People v. Darian Kendall, a criminal prosecution following a street race in which a person was killed. The constitutional issue is whether the government can restrict rights of freedom of speech, assembly and association concerning street racers who congregate with one another on a city street while displaying decals with the names of their respective racing clubs.
The defense wants the city ordinance thrown out; the prosecution wants it upheld. Mr. Lancaster, a member of Wilson High's Class of 2005, handles pretrial motions for both sides. Team members learn which side they'll present a few days before the mock trial hearing; on November 23, the Wilson team will present for the defense.
If Wilson's team prevails in the L.A. semi-finals on November 23 and in a final round thereafter, it will proceed to statewide competition in Riverside in early 2005.
On its website, the Constitutional Rights Foundation of L.A. says it "seeks to instill in our nation's youth a deeper understanding of citizenship through values expressed in our Constitution and its Bill of Rights, and educate them to become active and responsible participants in our society. CRF is dedicated to assuring our country's future by investing in our youth today."
"Under the guidance of a Board of Directors chosen from the worlds of law, business, government, education, the media, and the community, CRF develops, produces, and distributes programs and materials to teachers, students, and public-minded citizens all across the nation," the CRF website says.