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May 4, 2011

Host: Ted Simons

High School Mock Trial Program

  |   Video
  • Phoenix is hosting the National High School Mock Trial Championship May 5-7. Horizon takes you into classrooms and courtrooms as Arizona students compete to represent the State at Nationals. Guests include U.S. District Judge Stephen McNamee and Dewain Fox, a board member of the National High School Mock Trial Championship.
  • Stephen McNamee - U.S. District Judge
  • Dewain Fox - National High School Mock Trial Championship
Category: Education

View Transcript

Ted Simons: The national high school mock trial championship takes place this week in Phoenix. We'll hear from officials involved with the event, but first, David Majure takes us to the state finals that took place at the end of March. ¶¶

David Majure: Commanding the courtroom and making their case. These are some of the finest pretend attorneys Arizona has to offer.

Cast of Character: Can you make this affidavit --

David Majure: By laying blame and casting doubt, this cast of characters seeks nothing short of victory and a spot in the 2011 mock trial championship taking place in Phoenix. Members of this team are from the Arizona school of Arts. They won the state championship in 2010. Now they are hoping to repeat, which won't be easy. Mock trial never is.

Mark Labouchere: Imagine you're really trying to get -- you know, trying to convict this person, really believe that. If you believe that, I think it will go much better.
David Majure: Months before stepping into the courtroom, students start prepping in the classroom.

Nicole Speth: May it please the court, counsel, Your Honor --

Nicole Speth: Two hours every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, a rehearsal plus memorizing everything and practicing everything. So it's a big time commitment.

David Majure: They'll have to argue a make-believe case written for the competition by legal professionals. This year it's about a young woman who pledges a co-ed fraternity and dies after drinking large amounts of water during a game called water jeopardy.

Student: She knew it could be dangerous.

Kara van Schilfgaarde: You have pages of information and affidavits and exhibits and evidence and you have to combine and condense it into a articulate well thought out argument you have to present in less than 35 minutes and that's really difficult. She didn't mentioning about threatened when she attempted to leave?

Michael Ryan: It's similar it a real trial. The only difference, there are time limited.
David Majure: Retired Supreme Court Justice Michael Ryan has been judging mock trial competitions for more than two decades.

Michael Ryan: I would and you say through the years, I wish I had you guys in front of me -- because you can put on a case much better than some lawyers I've seen.

Kara van Schilfgaarde: Hypothyroidism is just the kind of factor that would make a teenager more likely to die, isn’t that right?

Mock Attorney: I don't believe so.

Kara van Schilfgaarde: Ok. Let's go back a little bit –
David Majure: The students have to learn the case inside and out because during competition they rotate roles, sometimes the prosecution, sometimes the defense and --

Michael Ryan: And they don't know until right before they start which side they'll be.

David Majure: And they alternate between the roles of attorney or witness.

Mark Labouchere: The bottom line is - You've got to know your content and practice and practice and that's one thing that every team needs to focus on. What separates the good teams from the great comes down to presentation.

David Majure: That's something that you might think would favor a performing arts school.

Mark Labouchere: I think it helps. Our attorney coach laughs about it. For a school that's an arts school, you guys are awful actors. And in a courtroom setting, it's different like the way you approach it.

David Majure: This year, members of ASU's sun devil mock trial team helped them with their approach and in late March, the school for the arts sent two teams at the federal courthouse in Phoenix for the trials. They present their cases in front of real attorneys and judges, who either preside over the case or sit in the jury box, scoring the rounds.

Michael Ryan: They score solely on performance.

David Majure: Because most cases tend to favor one side or the other, winning isn't the ultimate goal.

Michael Ryan: So you could lose the verdict and the verdict could be against you, but you win. Because your performance was so well done.

>> Objection, Your Honor. Lack of foundation.

>> May I be heard?

David Majure: Big points are awarded to teams who can think on their feet.
Michael Ryan: Let's say someone is asking a question and there's an objection. And you ask the basis for the objection, and then you ask the student who is asking the question, what's your response? And that, you know, shows you a lot. If they can give you a good, clear response that's correct, that really adds to their score.

Nicole Speth: I guess objections would be my least favorite part. You have to think on your feet a lot and can't plan for who is going to object to what and what your response is going to be and what you have to object to, so --

David Majure: After each round, scores are tallied and the teams paired for the next round of competition.

>> 601 should be FTX.

David Majure: They are assigned a three letter code so judges don't know which schools they're judging. [Applause]

David Majure: Late in the day after completing several trials, the top two teams faced off in the final rounds. Last year's champ, the Arizona school for the arts was one of them. The other, a team from Tucson.

Student: A woman had died from drinking too much water. Objection, hearsay, probation.
David Majure: Blow by blow, strike by counter strike, they demonstrate what had mock trial has to offer.

Michael Ryan: I think the best deal about this program is that they learn about the legal system.
David Majure: They learn about the law but also build valuable life skills.

Michael Ryan: Exactly, I think it builds confidence.

Mark Labouchere: Their analytical ability. The way my students dissect their arguments is amazing. What I've noticed in the classroom it translates into the academic work. So they improve even as people.

Kai Song-Nichols: I think I’ve gotten a good deal of confidence, really. Like when I came in, like, I was very quiet --

Kai Song-Nichols: Could you please identify this document.

Michael Ryan: Many of these kids become attorneys. Many say I don't want to be an attorney. It’s too much work.

Nicole Speth: My mom is a lawyer and I don't want to go into law and everybody asks do you want to go into law? Your mom is a lawyer and you are in mock trial. No, I couldn't deal with the clients. So --

Student: It is fun. Competing is just a joy.

David Majure: But finding out who wins can be stressful. At the end of the day only one team would be state champ and that team was university high. [Cheers]

David Majure: The Arizona School for the Arts took second place but to justice Ryan, every team is a winner.

Michael Ryan: It gives you confidence in the future of this community and the country.

Ted Simons: We should note that although the team from Arizona school for the arts did not win the state championship, it will be competing in the national competition. Here to talk about the high school mock trial program is U.S. district court judge Stephen McNamee, a long-time supporter of mock trial and a judge in local and national competitions. Also joining us is Dewain Fox, a former mock trial student who went on to become an attorney. He has leadership roles in both the state and national high school, oh not high schools, mock trial programs. Good evening. Thank you for being here.

Dewain Fox: Thank you.

Ted Simons: We've got a lot of information there. Talk more, though, about just how you pick teams and how you pick students and who gets involved in all of this stuff?

Stephen McNamee: It's a volunteer effort. We see them when the competition, Dewain would know, but it's getting schools interested and getting a volunteer teacher and volunteer coach to work with these young people and they do a fabulous job.
Ted Simons: And I thought it fascinating these kids, these -- they have to argue both sides, they have to be witnesses too.

Dewain Fox: They do, and they have to switch off, back and forth, at the state tournament, they're guaranteed the opportunity to be the plaintiff two times and the defense two times so most teams have somebody play attorney on one side and witness on the other. At the national tournament, it doesn't have the same restriction.

Ted Simons: Talk about the Nationals. How many teams are competing this week?

Dewain Fox: We have a record number of 48 teams. The most we ever had at nationals before is 44.
Ted Simons: How do you decide who gets there? I notice the second place team from Arizona is going to be there. So who gets to be invited?

Dewain Fox: The second place team from here is going to be there because we have 47 teams and don't want to have a biased situation; we have to have an even number. Every state is entitled to send its state champion and we have four teams competing from outside the US. Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, South Korea, and we also have for the first time ever, Australia.

Ted Simons: And the cases themselves. These are fictional cases, correct?

Stephen McNamee: That's true, but based on real life events and they change every year and so it's always an interesting time for the kids to get involved with real life experience.

Ted Simons: What makes a good mock trial case?

Stephen McNamee: Well, I think you try and balance it out between -- there's no right or wrong answer to the case. It depends on each side has some good points and you have glitches in the case that you have to overcome. Like a bad witness or the witness has background issues, things like that that come out before a jury when you have to argue them.

Ted Simons: Talk about the caliber we'll see at the national event. The best of the best, I take it?

Stephen McNamee: Topnotch kids from all over -- really, the world and just wonderful things. T it's a great opportunity for Arizona. I can't tell you what a opportunity it is for Arizona.

Ted Simons: And Arizona has done well in the past in these competitions. You have first-hand experience on that?

Dewain Fox: We won in '97 and when I was coaching at Deer valley, we had a couple of runner-ups at the national level and before that, we in Arizona were the first state to win the national championship twice. Xavier college preparatory won the first time in 1987.

Ted Simons: We saw in the taped package. Saw some confident kids. Talk to us about what is learned and the progress that one of these competitors goes through.

Dewain Fox: When they first start out practicing, they really don't have a lot of skills, don't have knowledge about of the legal rules, the rules of evidence in particular. And that's the job of the coaches of the teacher and attorney coach and frankly that's one of the things that was always exciting when I was coaching is to see the development of these kids. You start out with a student who is the one boy on the tape pointed out he was quiet, didn't know what to do. And now he's very confident and he's a very good mock trial performer.

Ted Simons: Interesting. What do judges look for, the criteria -- what do you keep an eye on?

Stephen McNamee: The performance and the adherence to the time limits. Everybody has a time limit and they've got to do an awful amount of work, a great quantity of work within a given time frame and you have to make judgmental decisions what to include and exclude and there's choices you make along the way that affects your case.

Ted Simons: And public speaking and presentations and convincing arguments. All factored in?

Stephen McNamee: All factored into and we look into persuasion. How persuasive? And how much they adhere to the rules? And are they ethical? And honest to the approach to things.

Ted Simons: Talk about the benefits to the program.

Stephen McNamee: You get a lot of benefits. You get public speaking and confidence and team building and strength of character. Discipline. You learn how to operate as a team. Adaptability, time management, ethical considerations which develop into life skills that are applicable throughout your life.

Ted Simons: And not all of these kids as we learned from the tape, not all go on to become attorneys do they?

Dewain Fox: No, they don't. When I participated, I wasn’t planning to be an attorney but working with the Deer Valley program, I decided that's what I wanted to do, but as the judge pointed out can these are life building skills regardless of what you do in your future life.
Stephen McNamee: I run into somebody at the grocery store and they'll say, you were my judge at mock trial and here's what I'm doing now and go on and on got benefits they got from the program. It's a tremendous character-building activity.

Ted Simons: Thank you for being here.
Stephen McNamee: Thank you for having us.

New Speaker of the House

  |   Video
  • When Kirk Adams recently stepped down as Speaker of the House to make a run for Congress, lawmakers wasted little time in selecting a replacement. Meet the new Speaker, Andy Tobin a Republican from Paulden, Arizona.
  • Andy Tobin - Speaker of the House
Category: Government

View Transcript

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. When Kirk Adams recently stepped down as speaker of the house to make a run for congress, lawmakers wasted little time in electing Andy Tobin for the position. Joining me now to talk about his plans and priorities as the new speaker of the house is Andy Tobin, a Republican from Paulden, AZ. Good to have you Mr. Tobin.

Andy Tobin: Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons: You bet. Before we get started on the serious stuff, talk to us about Paulden, Arizona. Where is it?

Andy Tobin: Oh my God, its God’s county. We're about 25 miles north of Prescott, before Drake and it's the headwaters of the Verde River and we have the dam, Sullivan lake dam and my house and my property backs up to the Verde River canyon. It's really beautiful up there.

Ted Simons: Talk about the impact of having the speaker of the house from Northern Arizona, from a small rural town.

Andy Tobin: We were sharing I'm originally from New York City, even though I've been in Arizona for over 30 years and kept trying to find a smaller place to go to and I found a place in Paulden. And my wife said isn't it strange you get elected and go back to the big city of Phoenix. But up there it's especially beautiful and I'm very lucky to represent district 1. So thanks for giving my a chance to plug that.

Ted Simons: You bet. Let's talk about why you campaigned? Why you wanted to be speaker of the house. Why did the position interest you?

Andy Tobin: First off, I think as I look at Arizona's issues and where we've been going, it's been -- it's been a real honor to be able to serve the Republican caucus and serve in the house and we have so many people and down there that are really there for the right reasons and I'm not so arrogant to believe there couldn't be 10 us who could be speaker and I was fortunate I was in the right place, the right time. And I worked hard and we have a lot of very, very good people and I wanted to stay with those folks because they care a lot and we have a long way to go in Arizona and we've made tough choices recently and I've been very fortunate to work with former speaker Adams and Weirs, and when I came to the legislature in 2006, I haven't been here that long, you think, what can I do? How can I make the things better and the crisis just started then and it's always been a fight, how do we get things balanced and do less harm. But we're still not there yet and I don't feel I want to go until I get it fixed.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about your style and how it may differ from your predecessors, you know Adams and Weirs. And priorities, is there a signature issue with you?

Andy Tobin: I feel like if it's not broke, don't fix it. And having been majority whim for two years and then having been elected as majority leader, I've been part of the leadership process since I've gotten down there and I think we've done a pretty good job. We've got a budget that's structurally balanced for the first time in a decade and we've made tough, difficult decisions whether its pension reform or the jobs bill that we passed. Some of the most significant legislation in a long, long time here in Arizona. And what I want is I want the state to be the southwest leader in the country, a place where people want to come and work and raise their families and I have five children, you know, so three of them in community college, I still have one in high school and my son is now down here working in Mesa. But I have wanted to make it better and I think this is my opportunity to take that next step to lead just a great caucus.

Ted Simons: You mentioned some legislation that did get through.

Andy Tobin: Yeah.

Ted Simons: I want to bring up some that didn’t; because we're likely to see a return come next session. Let's start with the immigration bills that are floating around the senate and got through to a certain extent but seem to be problems, maybe little too much too soon and not enough emphasis on budget. These immigration bills are more than likely to come back. How do you feel about that?

Andy Tobin: First off, our immigration problem is not solved. I know we get to hear from secretary Napolitano that the border's never been so secure and the next thing we get is – we get out of our office and ‘by the way, please be careful if you're going to rocky point’. I'm trying to figure out, we're either secured or not. My guess is not if we are issuing warnings. So the border is not something that has passed us by. The emphasis is we need to be sure we're protecting the residents of Arizona and make sure that law enforcement knows we have their -- they have our support and we need to stop the drug cartels and that's where the emphasis is shifting to but -- and that's where it's shifting to. But we are far away from declaring this border problem and immigration issue over.

Ted Simons: Making hospitals report patients that may not be documented. Making schools report parents, making parents report kids -- this sort of business, what do you feel about that?

Andy Tobin: Clearly it didn't have the support in the senate to move. I have concerns about some of the ways it was drafted, and I think at the end of the day we need to make sure our system isn't being taken advantage of and that's where the public outcry is coming from. We have people who are physically taking advantage of our services and right now with the revenue problems we really can't afford to have folks take advantage of us. Do I have concerns? Yes. I do have concerns with physicians having to take information when they're trying to treat patients in emergency rooms. There are issues there. In the House of Representatives and the senate, this is where the debates are supposed to happen. Some are all right to have this discussion and but by and large, the biggest priority needs to be we make Arizona safe again and Sheriff Paul Babeu and the others on the border, they say it's not safe. So I think that's where our new priorities should be for immigration reform.

Ted Simons: A couple of other issues. Gun bills that made it to the legislature, the governor vetoed one that regarded rights-of-way on campus, the other – public buildings. And I guess we'll see those and then maybe win some. What are your thoughts on it?

Andy Tobin: I'm not so sure we'll see those bills back. I think what I would like to do is better open the door for the executive and have more communication with Governor Brewer. You know, an awful lot of bills came at her very, very quickly and I don't think that was fair of us to do. But she signed over 93% of the Republican legislation going up there. So I think we've got a friend on the ninth floor. And she has a place in and a role to play and if the bills aren't working and she's got issues, we have to have better conversation and discussion. I think that not any one of those bills she vetoed didn't have some concerns from our other caucus members, and will they come back? I don't think they'll come back unless we make sure that the executive is comfortable with the way they're written and she's not going it sign them, I'm not going to get into a fight with an executive over bills she's not ready to look at. We have lots of other important things to do.

Ted Simons: The Birther bill, on this program, people said this doesn't make Arizona look good. Did you find that a necessary piece of legislation?

Andy Tobin: Well, you know, personally, I supported the legislation, it's -- we have 40 members in the house Republican caucus and they all come from different places around the state and to different places around the state they're more important than others and I would argue this issue could have been put to bed sooner if the president would have produced his long-form birth certificate last year or two years ago, whenever, before we got this far down the road. This is our effort to say, Mr. President, just pull the long form out and put an end to this debate. And that's what the design was for. Let's end the controversy. So you're not going to see that bill come back. Certainly not in its present form, the governor made clear how she feels about it and it's time to move on.

Ted Simons: Real quickly before I let you go. The governor made it clear that she wants to do something with the system of workers, the hiring and firing and looks like a special session?

Andy Tobin: The governor and I only had a chance to talk twice since last Thursday and while it's true she's been working diligently on some reform, it is a very large bill and I had one briefing on it only -- it was about a month and a half ago before we got heavy into the budget and wrapping up the session. So I hadn't had a chance to double back and follow up. It was so large, I argued against putting it open the floor and debating it at the end of the session and we should wait and I'm not sure how long that is. My guess it's as large as I'm hearing it's going to take more time to really get that information flesh to our members and I won't call our members back in as speaker unless they have an opportunity to spend time going through the legislation.

Ted Simons: I -- you mentioned the length and scope of the bill. Some say the jobs bill and other bills, the budget -- so many bills in such a little amount of time. People said there was no transparency and everything was rushed. What's your style, your thoughts?

Andy Tobin: I have to completely argue over of the non-transparent process we go through. I know the media gets anxious, but I can't make them happy unless they're at the table and 30 minutes within putting the budget together and the cameras zooming in on it. We've created a TV program to watch live streaming on the computer and all the committee meetings are done live. There are no secrets in the jobs bill and the budget came out in January and the senate moved one and I really have a problem with the transparency argument with all the work we've done to shine the light on government. We've done it for county, make sure they're putting budgets online and the emails and protestors coming down there, they know what's in the budget and the jobs bill or they wouldn't be there arguing. So I would agree to disagree with the media if they're not getting all they want it see, I'll try to help do better, but by and large, we're transparent.

Ted Simons: Nice to have you, speaker.

Andy Tobin: Nice of you to have me. Appreciate it.