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Community News

Apr. 17, 2024

LAUSD students learn about civil jury trials in mock trial event

The program aimed to introduce students to the Seventh Amendment and the right to a civil jury trial, while also exposing them to some of the best trial lawyers in the state.

Daniel Kramer, of Kramer Trial Lawyers, answers questions from participants in the LAUSD Mock Trial Program while Richard Carroll, of McMahan & Carroll PC and Ibiere N. Seck, of Seck Law watch on.

Who was responsible for injuring the baseball fan at Dodger Stadium? Questions of that ilk aren't exactly unprecedented within the walls of Los Angeles County Superior Court's Stanley Mosk Courthouse.

A jury consisting entirely of students from the Los Angeles Unified School District appointed to decide it? Well, that's more unusual.

So it was Thursday, when a group of approximately 180 students from six different LAUSD schools appeared in Judge Rupert A. Byrdsong's courtroom as part of a one-day mock trial event organized by the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Board of Trial Attorneys.

"This is our second year doing this, and it just keeps getting better," said Daniel K. Kramer, chair of the chapter's committee in charge of the LAUSD Mock Trial Program.

The program covered the key elements of a trial, from jury selection and opening statements to hearing a plaintiff witness, a defense witness, and then closing arguments.

Kramer, a trial attorney at Kramer Trial Lawyers, explained that the idea for the program came several years ago. ABOTA wanted to introduce students to the Seventh Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, pertaining to the right to a civil jury trial, but needed a creative and engaging way to do it. He said that the mock trial format had been a hit.

"It was just great to see these kids who had never experienced anything like this," Kramer said.

Students who had never witnessed a trial or didn't know any attorneys were "exposed to some of the best trial lawyers in the entire state, putting on a full trial," Kramer said. He added that students were given the opportunity to quiz attorneys and judges on the ins and outs of running a trial.

"We did a lunch breakout, during which we had about seven to eight judges [along with] the 15 to 20 ABOTA members, who all went into different breakout groups. The students were able to talk to us, just ask us questions directly, along with the judges. Just anything, any questions they had," Kramer said.

"They all had great questions. They want to know how objections work and the legal terms we were using, they were really engaged," he added.

The event, which Kramer said forms part of LAUSD's careers pathway, also serves to highlight the opportunities a career in law can bring.

"One of the first questions I asked when I start the event is 'How many people are interested in being lawyers or getting into the law?' I'd say only about 10 hands were raised. But then once we were done, and they got to see it, I'd say almost half the room raised their hands afterwards," Kramer said.

"If you look at the background of the ABOTA members and these people from all walks of life, you know, we were so well represented. [The participants were] very, very diverse. I think it inspired a lot of these students, you know, if they work hard and get an education, they can be up there with us. There's no reason they can't. And the teachers were ecstatic. They loved it," he added.

The plaintiff team consisted of: Siannah Collado, of S.C. Law APC; Robert S. Glassman and Brian J. Panish, both of Panish Shea Ravipudi LLP; Frank Perez, of Perez & Caballero APC; and Ibiere N. Seck of Seck Law P.C.

The defense team consisted of: Richard D. Carroll, of McMahan Carroll; Christopher E. Faenza and Alice Chen Smith of Yoka & Smith LLP; Linda Miller Savitt, of Ballard Rosenberg Golper & Savitt LLP; and Michael N. Schonbuch of Daniels Fine Israel Schonbuch & Lebovits LLP.

Kramer's fellow committee members are Rahul Ravipudi of Panish Shea Ravipudi, Christopher T. Aumais of Good Gustafson Aumais LLP, and Linda Star.


Jack Needham

Staff Writer/General Interest

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