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The GW Hatchet

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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

GW Law students complete coaching program for D.C. middle school students’ mock trial

Stuart+Hobson+Middle+School+students+pose+for+a+photo+in+the+D.C.+District+Court+after+completing+their+mock+trial+Monday.
Erika Filter | Staff Photographer
Stuart Hobson Middle School students pose for a photo in the D.C. District Court after completing their mock trial Monday.

A jury found Kevin Smith, a fictional student attending Duke Ellington High School, not guilty of theft Monday.

Twenty Stuart Hobson Middle School students completed their mock trial Monday, which culminated six months of legal coaching from seven GW Law students. D.C. District Court Judge Jia Cobb presided over the trial, which deliberated whether Smith, an imaginary junior, stole another student’s $700 Nikon camera in a make-believe case created by Kate Weisburd, an associate professor of law, and Ty Alper, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Weisburd said she and GW Law students — many of whom were her former students and research assistants — commuted to Stuart Hobson Middle School in northeast D.C. to teach students how to write opening and closing arguments and how to question witnesses every Friday afternoon. Weisburd said the work taught middle school students analytical, writing, public speaking and teamwork skills.

“This trial marks the culmination of months of hard work by the students,” Weisburd said at the trial.

Weisburd said she previously taught fifth graders mock trial at other schools, but she added additional witnesses and complicated the facts of the fictional case to better challenge middle school students. She said she hopes to continue the program annually at Stuart Hobson, and she may increase the level of challenge in the program to match the students skillset.

“I really wanted the students to enjoy themselves, to enjoy the role of being a lawyer or being a witness, with the hopes that maybe will stick with them,” Weisburd said.

Kaitlyn Iwanowski, a third-year law student in the program, said she joined the coaching program to teach others about the mock trial process after participating in mock trial in high school and college.

“It felt really good to see other people fall in love with it like I did,” Iwanowski said.

Grace Hong, a third-year law student in the program, said she found the students’ growth and improve in confidence rewarding.

“Towards the beginning of the summer, a lot of students were quiet and shy and stumbled on their words,” she said. “But today, I feel like they just grew a lot.”

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About the Contributor
Erika Filter, News Editor
Erika Filter is a senior majoring in international affairs from Carson City, Nevada. She leads the Metro beat as one of The Hatchet's 2023-2024 news editors and previously served as the assistant news editor for the Student Government beat.
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