The 2024 National High School Mock Trial Competition will be held in Delaware this weekend at the Leonard L. Williams Justice Center.

Delaware hosts national mock trial competition this weekend

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Education

The 2024 National High School Mock Trial Competition will be held in Delaware this weekend at the Leonard L. Williams Justice Center.

The 2024 National High School Mock Trial Competition will be held in Delaware this weekend at the Leonard L. Williams Justice Center.

Two Delaware schools will be participating in this weekend’s 2024 National High School Mock Trial Competition in Wilmington.

The Charter School of Wilmington, who are the First State champions, and Newark Charter, who were runner-up both will contend in the national meet.

Newark was added because the competition ended up with an odd number of teams. When that happens, the host city gets to designate a second team to even out the brackets.

RELATED: Wilmington Charter goes back-to-back, ties most wins in State Mock Trial

This is only  the second time in the 33 years that Delaware has been participating in the event that the state has hosted the national competition. 

Delaware judges who are involved with the event say they are proud to host it.

“It is a fantastic event that helps foster a deeper appreciation for the law and provides the students with a real sense of achievement – the student participants that will be here Friday and Saturday are among the best in the country,” said Delaware Justice N. Christopher Griffiths, a long-time mock trial cochair. He will help judge the final competition.

“Serving as the host state reflects well on Delaware and our court system, both of which I am privileged to serve,” he said. “I also want to acknowledge the hundreds of volunteers, both here and from across the county, who have come together to make this event truly special.”

The 40th anniversary of the national competition will have a format similar to the state championship: rounds one and two on Friday and rounds three and four on Saturday.

The final two teams will compete in the championship round that will be presided over by three Delaware Supreme Court Justices.

“Delaware hosting the competition has given us the opportunity to play on a bigger field, and make ourselves known to the rest of the nation, said Josh Eisele, a sophomore on the Newark Charter team.

The winner will be announced about 7:45 p.m., along with awards and other honors, at an awards gala and dinner at the Chase Center on the Riverfront.

All rounds will take place at the Leonard L. Williams Justice Center in Wilmington. 

Every year, the fictional trial addresses either a criminal or civil matter, rotating year-to-year.

This year, students will argue a civil matter and will not “win” or “lose” the case but will be judged on their presentation, knowledge of the law and skill in the courtroom.

This year’s case involves a corporate shareholder dispute, the kind of case that would land in Delaware’s Chancery Court.

Specifically, it involves a dispute over cellphone cases created by a company called QuickPhone, led by a popular and charismatic owner and movie star Bree Plaza, a roll-your-eyes reference to actress Aubrey Plaza, a Delaware native.

While the cases are initially popular, partly because the star is, they break down in extreme heat and cause lasting neurologist damage to users, a development that ultimately bankrupts the company.

In the mock case, a group of the actress’s fans and investors allege she did not in fact run the company, misleading them into buying stock, and that her recklessness as CEO led to the failure of the company, costing them millions.

Read the setup here.

There’s also a competition for best courtroom artist and courtroom journalist – who will complete practice sketches or articles in the first two rounds and then provide a final product to the judges after the third round.

About 48 teams – more than a thousand people – are expected to show, including state championship teams and winning teams from the Northern Marianas Islands, Guam and South Korea.

Each team has six to nine students on it in addition to at least one teacher coach and an attorney coach.

Families and friends also show up to support the competitors.

This weekend’s national championship is about twice the size of the Delaware state mock trial competition, where 22 teams competed. 

Throughout the country, about 37,500 students from 3,000 schools compete in the mock trial each year.

The competition and surrounding events are expected to have a significant economic impact for the city. 

The Chase Center will be a center of activity when students are not at the courthouse. There will be activities, scrimmage rooms, and a range of educational events including seminars on courtroom sketch work and acting as a witness.

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