Local Judge James Dehn serves as scorer in state Mock Trial tournament

Celebrating 25 years, the Minnesota high school mock trial state tournament, a challenging two-day event for the teams qualifying in regional competitions, was held in Duluth, March 8-9.

Each team competed in three trials Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning. Scores were tabulated, and the two highest scoring teams will move on to the championship trial.

This year’s championship trial will be presided over by The Honorable Peter Cahill, Assistant Chief Judge, Fourth Judicial District. Judge Cahill serves as the Chair of the MSBA Mock Trial Advisory Committee and took part in writing this year’s case. Joining Judge Cahill on the panel as scorers will be Judge James Dehn (10th Judicial District), Judge Jill Flaskamp Halbrooks (Minnesota Court of Appeals), Judge John DeSanto (6th Judicial District), Terrance Votel (MSBA President), Trina Alvero Iijima, Richard Walton, Val Parranto Davis, Kristin Olson and Brenda Denton.

On Wednesday students attended the awards banquet where regional champions, all-state attorney and witnesses, and professionalism award winners were recognized. Richard Walton, Ashby High School Attorney coach, was recognized as the Volunteer of the Year.

The state championship team will represent Minnesota at the National High School Mock Trial Championship in Phoenix, May 5-7, and defend Minnesota’s 2010 National Champion Title won by Breck School (Golden Valley).

The two-day state tournament marks the end of the 25th annual mock trial competition in Minnesota. Some 600 attorneys volunteered as coaches and judges during the mock trial season. Since January, over 1,500 students from Minnesota high schools argued the case of State of Minnesota v. Robin Caldwell. The case is an adaptation of the real-life 1977 murder case involving Elisabeth Congdon and Velma Pietila at Glensheen Mansion in Duluth. Awards banquet keynote speaker was Judge DeSanto who prosecuted the alleged perpetrators in 1977.

Mock Trial is an academic program sponsored and administered by the Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA).