Chief Judge Howell and students

Chief Judge Howell and the students who argued before her.

Before heading off to argue cases involving 1st and 4th amendment issues before 10 federal judges, over 125 high school students crowded into the Ceremonial Courtroom to be welcomed warmly by Chief Judge Merrick Garland.

After presenting their well-prepared arguments, the students were praised for their work by Chief Judge Beryl Howell and each of the participating judges, and then headed to the Atrium for a pizza lunch.

The Historical Society strives to remind everyone of the importance of our system of laws to the fabric of our society. One way it does that is by working with DC public and independent schools to bring students into the federal courthouse to enable them to experience what it is like to be a lawyer and a judge in a unique setting, and to learn about some of the fundamental precepts of the Bill of Rights (1st and 4th Amendments).

To that end, for a thirteenth consecutive year, the Historical Society conducted its Annual Mock Court Program on March 9, 2018. Once again, it was a huge success. Ten federal judges heard 5-6 minute arguments from over 125 students.

The fact patterns challenged the students to learn, analyze, and develop arguments in the context of First Amendment and Fourth Amendment issues arising in a high school context. Students from McKinley Tech, School Without Walls, H.D. Woodson, and Maret School participated.

Over 30 attorneys from D.C.’s legal community volunteered their time and met 4-5 times with the students, assisting them in analyzing the legal issues, the fact patterns, and in preparing their arguments.

Chief Judge Merrick Garland once again welcomed the students during the opening ceremony in the Ceremonial Courtroom. The students then proceeded to individual courtrooms to present their arguments.

From the U.S. District Court, Chief Judge Beryl Howell, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, Judge Rudolph Contreras, Judge Christopher Cooper, Judge Tanya Chutkan, Judge Randall Moss, Judge Dabney Friedrich, Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson, and Magistrate Judge Michael Harvey heard arguments. For a second year, Judge William Bryson of the Federal Circuit also participated.

Magistrate Judge Harvey and students

Magistrate Judge Harvey and the students who argued before him.

After the individual arguments, each Judge was able to spend time in an informal setting answering the individual students’ questions about the judiciary, the courts, and legal careers.

Upon their return to the Ceremonial Courtroom, the students heard inspiring words from Chief Judge Howell about the importance of law in their lives. Each judge then presented an Outstanding Advocate Award to the best student advocate among those who presented argument in the judge’s courtroom.

The judges praised the students for their presentations, finding it difficult to choose the best advocate from all those who argued before them. Nonetheless, the following students received Outstanding Advocate Awards:

From H.D. Woodson High School: Harold Martin and Anaya Robinson
From School Without Walls:Cameron Gray, Azaan Lambkin, Shirley Liu, Charley Mestrich, and Eve Wolfe
From McKinley Tech High School: Jordan Watson
From Maret School: Grace Pozen and Sam Thau

Everyone enjoyed an informal pizza lunch in the Atrium. Several judges stopped by to again congratulate the students on a job well done.

Judge Chutkan and student

Judge Chutkan and the student advocate who was the outstanding advocate in her courtroom.

Judge Cooper and student

Judge Cooper and the student advocate who was outstanding advocate in his courtroom.