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by Alexia Hernandez

Recently, I had the opportunity to volunteer for an all-day mock trial presented by American University’s School of Law at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Rockville, Maryland. I, along with other students from Montgomery College and American University, participated in the trial by being jurors. As we arrived at the courthouse, we were split into groups of 5 to 11 students. Each group was assigned to a different courtroom with different AU students that would be presenting the case.

As we jurors arrived in the room, we were greeted and thanked by the judge for our participation. We were given a notebook and a pencil to take notes on the case. As we got comfortable in our chairs, the opening testimonials began from the defense team and the prosecuting team. The case required our complete focus due to the fact that it was a criminal case with many important factors involved. As we would be the ones responsible for the jury verdict, I knew how necessary it would be to pay attention to all the evidence presented in the case.

Participating as a juror gave me an insight to how real cases are presented in court. Just as a real case, witnesses were brought onto the stand, the lawyers showed how passionate they were, and the whole courtroom could feel the tension between both parties. At the end of the trial, my fellow jurors and I reached a verdict and gave it to the judge. After the trial, the professor asked us to give some feedback on the AU student’s presentations. I expressed to the students what I believe they did well and what they did not persuade me with. I also mentioned how I enjoyed how passionate all the students were within the trial. It showed me how much they wanted to succeed in the courtroom and as lawyers.

As I plan to major in Criminology and Criminal Justice at UMD, this was a very great experience for me. I learned to evaluate evidence and make a conclusion based on the evidence presented. This opportunity allowed me to focus on details within a case to make a judgment. This opportunity also showed me how much I enjoy learning about the criminal justice system. Overall, this was one of the best experiences I’ve had!

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