Coryell County DA advises Copperas Cove High School students how to win at trial

Special to Leader-Press 

It is rare to see high school students sitting quietly after school. But Copperas Cove High School criminal justice students listened intently, processing every word that Coryell County District Attorney Dusty Boyd and Assistant District Attorney William Davidson said.
Boyd and Davidson worked with the CCHS to help them prepare for their upcoming mock trial competition later this Spring. Through the UIL contest, high school students act out a civil or criminal trial by arguing for either the prosecution or defense side against another team, which acts as the opposing side. By participating in rehearsed trials, students learn about the legal system. Mock trial is taught in conjunction with criminal justice courses with practices and role-playing taking place as an after-school enrichment activity. This process lends itself to the development of many crucial skills, from teamwork to critical analysis, to writing, and more.
The pair presented students with information through a PowerPoint slide presentation followed by a question-and-answer session.
CCHS Criminal Justice Club member, freshman Samantha Anderson, wrote notes throughout the presentation and took advantage of the Q&A session.
“What advice or tips do you have for opening or closing statements,” Anderson asked.
Boyd shared the importance of providing an example of how what is being alleged could have or could not have occurred depending on the side you are arguing.
“Never promise something you cannot deliver during an opening (statement), but you can mention it during the closing statement,” Boyd said. 
There are certain parts of the trial that all teams must go through, such as opening statements, direct examinations, cross examinations, closing arguments, and more.
The Coryell County District Attorney’s Office is one of several providing guest speakers to criminal justice students to give them a real-world perspective on the nation’s legal system. The CCHS Criminal Justice students serving on the crime scene investigation team received guidance from Sergeant Jon Nix from Coryell County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division and also a member of U.S. Marshal’s Task Force. Nix held a question-and-answer session with the students and created a mock crime scene scenario for the students to perform,  scoring them on their tactics and techniques. Criminal Defense Attorney Mary Beth Harrell has been invited to work with the students later this month. 
“CCHS students are working as a team to develop cases for both the prosecution and defense sides,” said CCHS Criminal Justice teacher Andre Whyte. “At the competition, they will have to be prepared to present both arguments. Students will take on the roles of trial attorneys, witnesses, and pre-trial attorneys, in addition to one bailiff and one timekeeper. They will work together as a team to craft a strong, comprehensive, well-developed case to present to the judge.”

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