By Jonathan Williams
Times West Virginian
Students of the Marion County Vocational School criminal justice program have been doing “mock trials” — a staged activity that simulates an actual trial with lawyers, witnesses and a jury — for quite a few years now.
Today, for the first time, they’ll be doing it in a real courtroom in front of a real judge.
Marion County Judge Michael Aloi is opening the Division I courtroom for use to the school’s mock trial team and will preside over a first-degree murder trial, providing an authentic legal experience, and they couldn’t be more excited.
“The mock trials we’ve done in the past, they’ve been really good learning experiences, but (today) is going to take it one step further,” said teacher Ray Frazier. “We want to get the full effect.”
Frazier said that he and Aloi have been in touch for some time to set up a time that they could make this happen, and the judge has been involved in the process all along the way.
“I think that I have the opportunity to let them know how important I think this is,” Aloi said. “If you want someone to know what’s important, then you be there and you donate your time to it,” and that’s what he’s doing.
In getting ready for the case, students have learned about the many facets of the legal process, from preparing opening and closing statements to evidence rules to jury selection. Aloi sat in on the jury selection, which Frazier said was really eye-opening for the students.