State finals will take place March 11-12 at the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse in Portland

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Riverdale High School, which received third at state last year, returns to state to compete March 11-12.Lake Oswego, Lakeridge and Riverdale high schools carried on a tradition of legal learning this year with all three schools again competing in Mock Trial.

The trio was among 44 high schools in Oregon that vied for a spot in the 30th annual state finals during competitions on Saturday in seven district courthouses in five regions. Teams delved into the law, wielding legal principles to argue a hypothetical case they’ve studied under the guidance of volunteer attorneys.

Classroom Law Project, a nonprofit launched in 1983, aims to imbue in students values and skills crucial to serving as an involved citizen of a democracy.SUBMITTED PHOTO - Lake Oswego High School earned a place at the state finals of Mock Trial. The winning team at state will represent Oregon in nationals in May in Boise.

Lake Oswego High and Riverdale High landed a place on the list of 18 teams that advanced to the state competition, which is scheduled for March 11-12 at the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse in downtown Portland.

LOHS Mock Trial adviser Jefferson Moore said both the 12-person Navy Team and the 11-person White Team did well at regionals, with Navy now advancing to state. Moore asked a couple of students what they believed the deciding factor was in their strong showing at regionals.SUBMITTED PHOTO - Lakeridge High School competed at regionals last weekend.

“In the words of Spencer McLaughlin, a senior leader of the prosecution, ‘Presentation of your side of the case can be just as important as the facts themselves,’” Moore said. “In the words of junior team leader Casey Iwasaki, ‘The confidence one learns and can exhibit during the trial really makes a difference. Our team was really confident going into the competition, and I think our performance proved that.’”

Last year at state, Village Home Education Resource Center received first, West Linn High walked away with second and Riverdale High took third.

Riverdale has 10 members on its Blue Team, which moved on to state, and 16 members on its White Team. The students arranged their own practices, even holding a full run-through of a case presentation, said Jeff Brown, Riverdale humanities teacher and point person for the school’s Mock Trial teams.

“I really think it’s the extra practices that the team put on by themselves” that helped students do well at regionals, Brown said.

The winning team at state will represent Oregon at nationals in May in Boise.

The hypothetical case, State of Oregon v. Bobby Dousa, centered around the fallout after someone used permanent marker to draw the opposing basketball team’s mascot on the face of star high school basketball player Addison Anderson when he was drugged at a party. Someone then snapped a photo of Anderson while he was passed out and posted it on Facebook. Student presenters held forth on issues including cyberbullying and Internet privacy. They also had to be prepared to interview Anderson as a male or female.

“It is supposed to be gender flexible,” said attorney Matt Levin, who coaches the Lakeridge teams with teacher Karen Hoppes. “We ran into boys and girls both playing that role. The teams have to be prepared to react to the sex of their witness.”

Lakeridge High landed a place at state last year. Though it did not repeat that achievement this year, Levin said his school’s three teams, totaling 41 students, still performed strongly.

“We were proud to have more students at the competition than any other team in Clackamas County,” Levin said. “The Mock Trial program has become one of the most popular extracurricular activities at Lakeridge, with more than 50 students participating in Mock Trial this year.”

By Jillian Daley
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