Tag Archives: Keesal Young and Logan

The Mock Trial Turned Muse: Students Tackle Cyberbullying and Discover New Law Careers

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Attorney Heidi Dudderar (left) advises the ITA defense team from Phineas Banning High School during ITEP’s 2nd Annual Law Day.

15 students from Phineas Banning High School’s International Trade Academy (ITA) received a day-long crash course in the U.S. judicial system and explored various careers in the legal profession during ITEP’s 2nd Annual Law Day.  From the comfort of the 14th floor of the Keesal Young and Logan, our young attorneys-for-the-day fiercely debated the legal ramifications of cyberbullying in the case of Billings vs. Pearson.

“There are so many things that can be argued in a case,” said Carlos. The ITA junior spoke shyly, but with new confidence and curiosity about the legal process.

His fictional client, Cathy Jean Pearson (Aka “the bully”), was free to go—the verdict came back as a hung jury.

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ITA students step into the Keesal Young and Logan library to discuss case notes and prepare for cross examinations.

Minutes prior, we had observed Carlos, writing feverishly on his notepad as the plaintiff and defense team participated in direct and cross-examination. The intensity of hands-on learning had momentarily stripped away his shyness.

On the plaintiff’s side, things were a bit somber. The team was not able to secure a win for their client, but they did gain valuable experience making persuasive arguments. They also set the bar higher for next year, noting they wanted to try a criminal case and use props – a robe and gavel for the acting judge. The 2014 Law Day was in the works, and all the adults in the room smiled approvingly.

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The firm’s dining hall transforms into a courtroom for ITEP’s 2013 Law Day.

“It was a lot of fun today – I liked it,” said Sam, another ITA junior who testified as a witness for the plaintiff’s side. However, he made a confession to us before boarding his bus. “I was looking forward to arguing, but I was a witness… I like arguing… I wanted to prove my point.”  Next year, Sam!

Everyone played a role in the mock trial, from court reporter to case witness to attorney, and after all the “scary” parts (talking, presenting and cross examinations) were over, students exchanged constructive criticism and a shared few laughs with the real-life attorneys, their teachers for the day.

“…They are expected to pick up a process and a way of thinking that attorneys work on their entire life, and they’re expected to do it in six hours, and many of them wow me every single time because they just do it! It’s amazing,” said Jennifer Meeker, ITA advisory board member and attorney for Nossaman.

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ITA students discuss mock trial details while the jury deliberates.

If a mock trial during a Saturday can engage a young mind and awaken a student’s full potential, imagine what other elements are left to be uncovered? Even if we just skimmed the surface of future dream careers, the results are nothing short of inspirational.

“I learned how much work lawyers have to do. It’s a lot of work… but having the experience today, it made me actually consider a future in law – it’s interesting,” said Carlos.

“My dream is to go to USC – that’d be a dream.” The junior also spoke about his interest in civil engineering and architecture.

Encouraging Carlos to dream big is the key to ensuring a bright future –both his own and that of his community.  Giving Carlos and his classmates the opportunity to explore their dreams through hands-on experiences such as Law Day is ITEP’s mission and our daily delight.

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Our hard-working team! Left to right: Attorney Heidi Dudderar, Attorney Jennifer Meeker from Nossaman LLP, Attorney Lisa Barnett from A. Lavar Tayor Law Offices and Susie Emami, ITEP Program Manager.

We are extremely grateful for the guidance and support of Jennifer Meeker from Nossaman LLP, Lisa Barnett from A. Lavar Tayor Law Offices and Heidi Dudderar. Thank you, ladies! You made the 2nd Annual ITEP Law Day special and successful. We’d also like to recognize our gracious host, Keesal Young and Logan for lending their offices, staff and catering services. 

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The Titanic Resurrected: ITA Law Day 2012

The Titanic Resurrected

By Jose Sanchez & Erika Vega ITA Class of 2014

On a bright and early Saturday morning, 27 ITA students resurrected the Titanic at the offices of Keesal Young and Logan for Law Day 2012. ITA Advisory Board member Jennifer Meeker, Nossaman LLP, along with Lisa Barnett, RJS Law, and Samira Seidu with the San Diego District Attorney, led the students through a case preparation and trial. ITA juniors and seniors gave up their Saturday to participate in this exercise and Ms. Seidu took notice: “The fact that these students showed up on a Saturday morning and presented a jury trial that same afternoon was truly impressive.”

In the trial of Estate of Hans Jensen v. The White Star Line, each student was assigned a different role and the morning session was devoted to getting prepared. The students were separated into the following groups: Defendants, Plaintiffs, Witnesses, Juries, and Reporters. Ms. Meeker played the judge. Both the defendants and the plaintiffs worked in small groups with Ms. Meeker and Ms. Seidu to come up with a clear case that they would use in court. The plaintiffs gave their opening statement “The Titanic’s Captain WAS responsible for Jensen dying!” while the defendants strongly disagreed and argued that the “Titanic’s Captain was NOT responsible for Jensen’s death.” ITA senior Bryan Tahuite gave this advice: “stick to the words and never give up.”

The room was quiet and very intense while the plaintiffs and the defendants bravely stated their arguments. The jury remained alert, sustained focus and respectfully gave their full attention to both parties. With the help of Ms. Barnett, the jury of 10 deliberated while everyone waited patiently for the results. After what seemed like forever, the jury came to their conclusion: “White Star Line is NOT responsible for the death of Jensen.” The defendants won for having a stronger case!

After the trial was over, students had the chance to ask the three attorneys questions about practicing law. While they learned about different fields and different career opportunities in law, they also learned that you cannot chew gum in a court room and were told that a person was once charged $500 because their cell phone rang during a trial.

All three attorneys were thoroughly impressed by the students. “I was impressed with how hard-working and engaged the students were in the legal system.  I look forward to participating again next year! said Ms. Barnett. Jennifer Meeker was impressed with their hard work and professionalism.”I have served on the ITA Board for over a year now and the students wow me each time I meet them. They were professional, engaged, and hard-working. I would welcome the opportunity to work with each and every one of these students in the future.”  ITA showed a lot of potential and Ms. Seidu encouraged the students to pursue careers in law. “I hope these students choose to pursue legal careers because the profession would be lucky to have them.”   

The students had a lot of fun and learned a lot through the process. They learned how to trust their teammates and how to work together. ITA would like to thank Jennifer Meeker for putting this event together, and with the help of Lisa Barnett and Samira Seidu, teaching us about the field of law, and giving us a chance to resurrect the Titanic.

In advance, students were assigned different roles to prepare for the trial. ITA Juniors Jose Sanchez and Erika Vega were assigned to be Court Reporters. Throughout the trial, Jose and Erika jotted down notes, interviewed participants and took photos. above is the article they co-authored commemorating the 1st Annual ITA Law Day.

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Lisa Barnett is a senior associate with RJS Law located in San Diego, which specializes in resolving civil and criminal tax controversies with the IRS and California state tax agencies.  RJS Law has significant prominence within the San Diego community through established relationships with current and former clients as well as an established track record of success dealing with federal and state government officials.  Ms. Barnett also volunteers her time as Treasurer and Board Member of the Jarrett Meeker Foundation.

Jennifer Meeker is a litigation associate with the law firm Nossaman LLP, which is an all-service national law firm with 150 professionals working seamlessly within California and across the United States.  The Firm has a history of serving clients in the Port area including the Port of Los Angeles, the Port of Long Beach, the City of Long Beach, Valero and Tesoro, and worked extensively on the Alameda Corridor Project in addition to other projects.  Ms. Meeker serves on the board of the Jarrett Meeker Foundation and on the International Trade Academy advisory board. Ms. Meeker organized the Law Day, prepared the mock trial based on a wrongful death suit arising out of the sinking of the Titanic, helped the defense team prepare its case and acted as judge. 

Samira Seidu is a deputy district attorney with the San Diego District Attorney’s Office where she prosecutes domestic violence cases.  In addition, Ms. Seidu is a board member of the Jarrett Meeker Foundation and also coaches a  San Diego area high school mock trial team.

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Filed under Banning High School, ITA