The Southern University Law Center’s Pro Bono team organized a mock trial for high school students from the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired on March 17.
The Pro Bono team and law student volunteers introduced the high school students to the trial process and to key players in a trial. Members of professor Donald North’s trial advocacy class demonstrated courtroom skills, and the high school students were each assigned a role for the trial — prosecutor, defense counsel, clerk, bailiff, court reporter or juror.
With the help of law student volunteers, the high school students prepared and tried the criminal case. Just as with any trial, the students started with opening statements, called and questioned witnesses, introduced exhibits, and ended with closing arguments before the jury deliberated and returned its verdict. Professor Arthur Stallworth acted as judge for the proceedings.
The School for the Visually Impaired helped print the material used for the trial in Braille, and before the event, the students from LSVI taught braille basics to the law students, faculty and staff.
These students also taught the law students different ways to accommodate a visually impaired client.
The Pro Bono Project strives to inspire law students to a lifelong commitment to social justice, public interest and pro bono work. The project, which is coordinated by North, serves as a bridge between academics and action, encouraging students to be leaders for justice.