17 Feb 2017
- By Bryan Manabat - firstname.lastname@example.org - Variety News Staff
SEVEN high school teams are showcasing their budding legal talents in arguing Commonwealth vs. Kelsey Reed, a case about a student accused of cyberstalking, in this year’s mock trial competition that started on Thursday in Superior Court.
Cyberstalking is the repeated use of electronic communications to harass or frighten someone — for example, by sending threatening emails.
Attorney Deanna M. Ogo, CNMI Supreme Court clerk, is this year’s mock trial coordinator.
She said it’s a challenging yet rewarding undertaking.
“I would not have been able to coordinate this year’s competition without the support of the teachers, attorneys, members of the bench, court staff, and committee members who volunteer countless hours to ensure that the program continues,” she added.
She said this year’s mock trial case is relevant to what is happening in the community today.
“With the accessibility of the internet and the ability to hide behind aliases, it seems cyber bullying is on the rise.
“Most teens these days have smartphones or tablets, and may have unsupervised access to social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, etc. Although it may seem like our teens are the only ones affected by cyberbullying, we adults may be victims of cyberbullying as well. As a community, we should raise awareness and keep our children and ourselves safe online.”
This year’s participating teams are from Dr. Rita Inos Jr. & Sr. High School, Grace Christian Academy, Marianas High School, Mount Carmel School, Saipan International School, Saipan Southern High School, and Tinian Jr. & Sr. High School.
The winning school will represent the CNMI in the 2017 national championship in Hartford, Connecticut.
Marianas High School student Yuki Nishida said the mock trial is “really competitive” and he is looking forward to competing with the other teams.
Benjamin C. Byers, attorney coach for SIS, said this is his first year coaching a team, adding that most of his students are freshmen.
“It’s fun to work with students who have not done it before although most of them have done speech and debate so they are fairly accomplished speakers.”
For his part, MCS coach Joe Taijeron thinks the students can relate well to the cyberstalking issue.
“They are a lot more cyber savvy than we give them credit for,” he added. “Everybody is on their phones, talking to each other via email and chat rooms, so this is a relevant topic.”
Sheila N. Trianni of the Commonwealth Law Revision Commission was one of the individuals who helped start the mock trial competition in the CNMI “with the help of the late Justice Ramon Villagomez,” she added.
“I love to see the students learn about the law, about their rights, about public speaking, and being mentored by great coaches who love the law,” said Trianni.
The 19th CNMI High School Mock Trial competition will conclude on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017.
Mount Carmel School, which has won three of the five competitions since 2012, is the defending champion.