Texas Border Business
SAN JUAN – Over 50 high school students from Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD gained insightful knowledge about courtroom legal procedures and got to hear from practicing attorneys during the 2nd Annual PSJA ISD Mock Trial Clinic held at PSJA Early College High School on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018.
Inspired by the need to prepare students for the upcoming Regional Mock Trial Preliminary Competition in January, PSJA ISD hosted the clinic to provide students with the opportunity to learn from attorney advisors and speakers. Session topics included: opening/closing statements; direct cross-examinations, objections, witnesses and courtroom simulation, and procedures.
“We want to show our students all the opportunities available for them in the legal field,” said PSJA School Board President Jesse Zambrano who led the efforts in hosting the clinic. “We have students from all PSJA ISD high schools here learning about courtroom procedures and hearing from professionals.”
Students in the Mock Trial teams from PSJA ECHS, PSJA North ECHS, PSJA Memorial ECHS, PSJA Southwest ECHS, PSJA T. Jefferson T-STEM ECHS and Buell Central participated in the event and networked with numerous professionals in the legal field.
Over 70 high school students from across the district are currently preparing to compete at the Regional Mock Trial Preliminary Competition next Spring, according to the PSJA Director of Academics Marisela Zepeda.
“For many of our students this is their second year taking part in the PSJA Mock Trial Clinic,” Zepeda said. “We hope our students gain a lot of insight and information from today’s event so that they can become familiar with the procedures for the competition.”
According to Attorney Jaime Peña, who is serving as an advisor for the PSJA Mock Trial Clinic and the Pre-Law Institute, exposing students to careers in the legal field is important.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to work with the students and advise them,” said Peña who’s been practicing law for over 20 years and is also a Business Law professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. “Giving the kids this chance to interact with the legal community is amazing. I wish more school districts would take on initiatives like this.”
For Robee Ruaz, a junior at PSJA North Early College High School, attending the PSJA Mock Trial Clinic for the second time is a privilege.
“Last year I played a witness in the Mock Trial Competition and this year I am playing an attorney,” said Ruaz who is pursuing an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice and is part of the PSJA North Mock Trial team. “It’s great that PSJA ISD does this to help us prepare for the competition. Thank you to everyone for organizing this event for us.”
All Rio Grande Valley high school Mock Trial teams, including PSJA’s, will be competing at the Regional Mock Trial Preliminary Competition that will be held in January at the Hidalgo County Courthouse.
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