AUGUSTA – Lewiston High School and Hampden Academy will compete in the semifinal round of the 2004 Maine State High School Mock Trial Competitions at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 3, in Kennebec County Superior Court. The other semifinal pits Falmouth High School and Catherine McAuley High School of Portland.

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.

An academic competition in which teams prepare and try a case under simulated courtroom conditions, the competition 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.

Lewiston’s attorney/coaches are Jodi Nofsinger, Robert Hoy and Justice Ellen Gorman. The teacher coach is Joan Macri.

The students on this year’s team are Ashley McWhorter, Calder Phillips-Grafflin, Kate Lauze, James Morin, Husayn Carnegie, Ann Danforth, Tom Baril, Adam Rickards, Nate Farnsworth, Nic Dufault, Isla Hansen, Matt Bouchard, Courtney Goodwin, Andrea Lama, and Cassie Jensen.

The public is invited, but seating is limited.

The competition 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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