BANGOR – Hampden Academy and Edward Little High School will compete in the quarterfinal round of the 2004 Maine State High School Mock Trial Competitions at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17, in U.S. District Court.

An academic competition in which teams prepare and try a case under simulated courtroom conditions, the event educates students about the legal system, the judicial process, the attorneys’ roles and the rules of evidence, and teaches effective communication, critical thinking, principles of advocacy and teamwork.

This year, students will try a libel suit. In the case, an embittered student allegedly posts a message on the school’s Internet bulletin board asserting that a particular teacher “is a druggie.” The teacher, a former lawyer who demands the highest standards of his pupils and their work, is, in fact, a recovering cocaine addict.

The students will argue whether the posted message defames the teacher because his addiction is inactive. Team members will fill the roles of plaintiff attorneys, defense attorneys and witnesses. The trials are unscripted.

The public is invited to attend the mock trials, but seating is limited.

The competition is sponsored by the Maine State Bar Association and presented by Maine Law and Civics Education at the University of Maine School of Law. Additional support is provided by the Maine Bar Foundation.

Three hundred and fifty students from 27 Maine high schools, as well as several dozen volunteer lawyers and judges, are participating in the competition, which will culminate in a state championship trial on Wednesday, Dec. 8. Chief Justice Leigh I. Saufley of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court will preside.

Hampden Academy was the 2003 champion and represented Maine in the national competition in New Orleans. This year’s nationals will be held in Charlotte, N.C., in early May.

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