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Court interns get serious during annual mock trial and Competition Week

August 18, 2016 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
John Simmond (left), Hon. Michelle Weston and Rod Randall (right) helped to run the annual mock trial that the court's summer interns put on each year. Photos courtesy of Charmaine Johnson

The first week of August always kicks off “Competition Week” for the students involved in the Kings County Supreme Court Student Employment Internship Program.

Throughout the week, the students compete head-to-head or on teams in various events, including an interview competition, an annual basketball game and the mock trial, which is consistently the week’s headliner.

This year’s mock trial, which took place on Aug. 3, was hosted by Justice Michelle Weston, who also presided over the trial. Yvonne Pritchett and Inga O’Neale worked with the students from the people’s side while John McPadden helped on the defense side. The court employees worked with the students for 2 1/2 weeks to prepare them for the trial, but then took a hands-off approach on the big day.

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“After the initial meeting to tell the kids what the trial would be about and what was expected of them, they kind of went off on their own and were very good at figuring out which responsibilities everyone would take,” O’Neale said. “We did a bit of role playing with them to review, and gave them pep talks on how they should be doing it. They all took it very seriously and there was big competition between the groups because they each wanted to win.”

A few of the students had competed in the mock trial the previous year and knew how to handle the situation. But Charmaine Johnson, who runs the intern program, was surprised at how quickly some of the new interns picked up the information. O’Neale remarked that it was easy to imagine a few of them in actual courtroom roles a few years down the road.

Everyone was really impressed with Ermithe Maurancy, who played the role of the grief-stricken defendant.

“The whole time they’re testifying on the stand, she was crying her heart out, she was absolutely amazing with the performance that she did,” Johnson said.

The week ended with the annual interns vs. court officers basketball game and, to no one’s surprise — except for the students’ — the court officers continued their long tradition of beating the interns. Despite the loss, the students still had fun and were able to relax after a summer internship and an intense mock trial.

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