2002-04-20 / Community

Mock Trail Presented At BCHS

District 27
By Peter Parella

District 27

On Saturday April 13, students from the Law and Forensics Magnet Program of Middle School 180 in Community School District 27, Queens, joined their Beach Channel High School peers for a unique demonstration of the workings of our judicial system. As a culminating activity for the magnet program students participated in a day long mock trail demonstration held in Beach Channel High’s courtroom styled legal learning center.

Matthew Bromme, CSD 27 Community Superintendent, Steven S. Greenberg, District 27 School Board President, Rowena Schwab, CSB 27 member, along with Deputy Superintendent Martin Weinstein and School Principals Bernard Gassaway (Beach Channel HS) and George Giberti (MS 180Q) opened the event by thanking the participants for volunteering their time, they stressed the importance of professional and school community collaborations.

The trail demonstration was based on a professional tutorial program called "Masters In Trail" which was formulated by the American Board of Trail Advocates (ABOTA), a national organization of trail attorneys. Volunteers from local legal and law enforcement systems included Hon. Charles H. Thomas, Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Queens, who presided over the case. Richard J. O’Keefe, Esq., (O’Keefe and Lindgren, LLP) acted as lawyer for the plaintiff and Harold Lee Schwab, Esq. (Lester Schwab Katz & Dwyer, LLP), a Neponsit community member who was instrumental in organizing the event, represented the defendant.

Also on hand to demonstrate their jobs or act as defendant, plaintiff and witnesses were Garland Battle, Court Officer and Angela Spinelli, Court Reporter from the office of Juanita Bing-Newton, Deputy Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives – Supreme Court, Queens County. Dr. James H. Somerset, Professor of Engineering, Syracuse University played the expert witness role, while Samantha Williams, Para Legal, and Juan Gonzalez, Document Clerk, (both of Lester Schwab Katz & Dwyer, LLP), acted as the plaintiff and defendant, respectively. Police Officer Pepe Smith of the 100th Precinct, Queens, gave testimony regarding the crime scene.

Students and their families filled the Beach Channel HS "courtroom" gallery and acted as jurors and spectators. In order to demonstrate how their final decision was made the young jurors’ deliberations were broadcast via closed circuit camera to the gallery audience. During the course of the day justice system professionals spoke with students, explained their work responsibilities, and offered guidance for future job opportunities. It is hoped that this program, which apparently has never been previously attempted, will afford the children a better appreciation of the justice system, responsibilities of citizenship, and an increased awareness of career choices.

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