By Anna Guido
DELHI TOWNSHIP - In 1983, the first year of the Ohio High School Mock Trial competition, Oak Hills High won the state championship. Twenty years later, it's at it again.
"When the judges announced second place, we knew we were first, but we had to just sit there," said team member Katie Riestenberg, 18.
Riestenberg, of Delhi Township, and teammates Seth Reddy, 18, of Green Township; Casey Munn, 18, Delhi Township; and Sarah Wieman, 18, of Bridgetown - all seniors - are now preparing for nationals May 8-10 in New Orleans.
"It's been a long process that started in October with these students getting advice and constructive criticism from four adults on a constant basis," said faculty adviser Tim Taylor.
These Greater Cincinnati high schools have placed first in the Ohio High School Mock Trial Competition:
Oak Hills High School (2002-03)
Lakota West High School (1999-2000)
St. Xavier High School (1997-98)
Georgetown Junior/Senior High School (1994-95 and 1990-91)
Taylor, an Oak Hills history and government teacher, and Cincinnati attorneys Brett Goodson, Alex Triantafilou and David Wood advised the students in the five-month process that led up to the state match March 13-15 in Columbus.
In a mock trial competition, teams of student attorneys and witnesses must prosecute and defend a fictitious case.
The program aims to teach critical thinking, communication, cooperation and understanding of legal issues and the judicial system.
Students are judged on how well they argue the case.
This year's case took place in 1864 and revolved around a community celebration on a farm in southern Ohio. A crowd gathered to listen to orators. A few days later, Lamdin P. Miller, the owner of the farm and one of the speakers, was arrested at his home, taken to a military prison, and charged with inciting an insurrection in violation of the laws of war.
The final competition was held at the Ohio Historical Society's 1860s-era village and was presided over by Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer.
"In the final match against Upper Arlington (a Columbus suburb), they reacted to what was going on, versus being more scripted," Goodson said. "They did not resort to what was memorized and they knew just how to get attention riveted toward themselves."
Ohio's Mock Trial program is conducted by the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education. It is the third-largest mock trial program in the United States.
Forty-six teams qualified in district competitions for the state event, including two other Greater Cincinnati high schools, St. Xavier and Fairfield.
For more information, go to www.oclre.org and click on State Mock Trial Information.
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