Mock Trial

What is Mock Trial?
Mock Trial helps high school students develop a deeper understanding of the law through a lively competition that begins in one of 32 district competitions. Depending on the scoring of each team’s work — including as lawyers presenting each side of a case, witnesses and jurors — the teams advance to regional, state and even national competition. Mock Trial includes:

  • 400 teams throughout the state, including 3,600 students
  • 900 volunteer judges and lawyers in Ohio, including more than 100 here in
  • Hamilton County
  • Three attorneys and “real life” judges who serve as judges for each pair of teams. One acts as presiding judge and two are scoring judges, all giving feedback to the teams as they present their cases.

Inspired by the popular podcast Serial the 2018 case asks students to tackle the post-conviction relief petition from Adam Smith. In October 1999, Smith was convicted of the murder of Hayley Leigh, his ex-girlfriend and fellow student at Trillium High. Almost 20 years later, Smith has filed a petition for a new trial, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. Smith contends that his original attorney mishandled cell phone evidence in his case, and failed to pursue a potential alibi witness. The state has set an evidentiary hearing to consider Smith’s motion for a new trial. Due to serious attorney misconduct, Smith’s original trial attorney was disbarred only a few years after his case. Both sides have stipulated to the attorney’s deficient representation. The hearing will focus on whether there is a reasonable probability that the outcome of the case would have been different but for the ineffective trial counsel (prejudice).

How to Volunteer
You can serve at one or both of the local sessions at the Hamilton County Courthouse on:
Jan. 26:     

  • Session I: 1 – 3 p.m.
  • Session 2: 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.


Judges Training @ CBA: Jan. 19, Noon – 1 p.m.

All volunteers will receive materials in advance to learn the judging criteria. If you are interested in volunteering as a judge, please contact Jamie Shiverdecker at the Cincinnati Bar Association (513) 699-4013 or

Hamilton County will be hosting students through the next step of the competition with a regional at the courthouse.  The event will be on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018 and rounds will be from 1 – 3 p.m. and 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.  Please contact Jamie Shiverdecker if you are interested in signing up to judge at

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