HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ -- Hasbrouck Heights Middle School students held court in the annual Mock Trial in the Municipal Courtroom on Thursday evening.

The case they were hearing is part of the New Jersey State Bar Foundation’s Law Adventures program and deals with a civil suit centering on damages whether or not a high school student was granted due process in an incident allegedly involving a weapon in school in O'Toole v. Moctreal High.

The middle school mock trial team is composed of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders who learned about the law and courtroom procedure since the start of the school year. Teachers Jane Gay and Michael Stillman advised and prepared the students for the evening's trial.  This year it was a face off between grades with eighth graders (Plaintiff) versus seventh graders (Defense.) The presiding judge was lawyer and Hasbrouck Heights graduate Mark DiPisa, Esq. Unlike prior years where it was a jury trial, this year's event was a bench trial, with the ruling given by the judge.

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Students assumed the roles of lawyers and witnesses and prepared cases for both the plaintiff and defendant. This case was unscripted. Students created the strategies, questions, and answers employed by both sides. The trial followed standard court procedures including a pre-trial conference, entering evidence, opening statements, sworn testimony, cross examination and re-direct, objections, and closing statements. Before closing statements, DiPisa told the students that it was their "last opportunity to appeal to the judge with passion, compassion, and heart."

"Both teams were extremely well prepared and ready for this," he observed, before handing down the verdict, noting he was "extremely impressed with all the attention to detail."

After the trial, the students presented retiring teacher Jane Gay with a personalized gavel for her time and dedication.

The verdict?

Judge DiPisa found that the plaintiff was not granted due process in the case.

 

For the Plaintiff
 Anthony DiLascio, Grade 8 . ................ ................................ Attorney
 Param Malik, Grade 8 . ........................ ................................ Attorney
 Dea Jera, Grade 8 ....................          . ................................ Maddy O’Toole
 Maria Manis, Grade 8 ................ ........         ........................ Roberta (Rob) Otix

 For the Defense
 Maya Bohan, Grade 7 . ....................................................... Attorney
 Elliot Eddy, Grade 7 . ................................ ......................... Attorney
 Rylie Kearns, Grade 7 ....... ......................... ....... Samantha (Sam) D. Spise
 Sophia Lara, Grade 7 ..................... .................... Blade B. Sharpe

 Mrs. Jane Gay ....................... ................................ Team Coaches
 Mr. Michael Stillman

 Mr. Mark DiPisa, Esq..................................................Judge

 

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