Kentucky Court of Justice
30 high school mock trial teams to argue United States of America v. Cassius M. Clay at state tournament March 5-7 in Louisville
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Thirty teams of high school students from across the commonwealth will converge in Louisville this Friday to argue United States of America v. Cassius M. Clay and hope to score a knockout in the Kentucky High School Mock Trial Tournament. The tournament is March 5-7, with four rounds of competition taking place at the Jefferson County Judicial Center. The top two teams will compete in the championship round at the Muhammad Ali Center.
Louisville is the birthplace of Muhammad Ali, who was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in 1942.
The public is invited to observe the three-day competition (two rounds Friday, two rounds Saturday and the championship round Sunday; other tournament events are only for those involved with the competition and for media to cover). There is no cost to attend. Space is limited.
Teams will contend for the state title, with the winner going on to compete at the National High School Mock Trial Tournament in Philadelphia in May.
Justice Lisabeth Hughes Abramson of the Supreme Court of Kentucky and Judge Denise G. Clayton of the Kentucky Court of Appeals will open the state competition with remarks at 11:45 a.m. EST Friday at the judicial center. The judicial center is located at 700 W. Jefferson St. in Louisville. The championship round will begin at 10 a.m. EST Sunday at the Muhammad Ali Center, which is located at 144 N. Sixth St. in Louisville.
Seven of the schools with teams scheduled to compete are located in Louisville. They are Assumption High School, Central High School, duPont Manual High School (two teams), Eastern High School (two teams), Louisville Collegiate School, Mercy Academy High School and Saint Xavier High School.
Three Richmond schools have teams in the tournament – Madison Central High School/Kentucky Tech, Madison Southern High School and Model Laboratory School. Ashland and Paducah each have two schools with teams taking part in the competition – Boyd County High School and Paul G. Blazer High School from Ashland, and Paducah Tilghman High School and St. Mary High School from Paducah. There are also two schools from Campbell County with teams in the tournament – Highlands High School in Fort Thomas (two teams) and Newport Central Catholic High School in Newport.
The other teams scheduled to compete are from Breckinridge County High School in Harned, Fulton Independent High School in Fulton, Marshall County High School in Benton, Montgomery County High School in Mount Sterling (two teams), Monticello High School in Monticello, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington, Russell Independent High School in Russell, St. Henry District High School in Erlanger, The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky in Bowling Green and Webster County High School in Dixon.
A team from Foley Middle School in Berea will be on hand to compete in case a team drops out. The Foley team won the state middle school championship in mock trial. Middle schools are not eligible for the national competition.
In the competition, teams will act as the prosecution and defense in the trial of United States of America v. Cassius M. Clay. In 1967, heavyweight boxing legend Ali – then named Cassius M. Clay – was charged with knowingly and willfully refusing to report for and submit to induction into the U.S. Armed Forces (draft dodging), a felony punishable by five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. This was during the Vietnam War. Prior to this, Ali had applied for conscientious objector status but was turned down. He was convicted on the charges and appealed his conviction all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. On June 28, 1971, the court unanimously reversed the original decision. Ali’s request for conscientious objector status was honored and all charges against him were dropped.
Every team will participate in at least four rounds of competition, arguing the case with a different team in each round. Each team will be assigned the role of the prosecution and the defense at least once. Team members also portray other individuals in the case, including the defendant and other witnesses. Judges score the teams in each round and the scores are totaled to determine the winner. The teams learn their scores after the last round of trials.
Judging the competition will be Court of Appeals judges, circuit and district judges, attorneys and law students.
The top 10 teams will be announced late Saturday afternoon at the Muhammad Ali Center. Prior to the announcement, the student teams and community leaders will meet for a dialogue.
On the first night of the tournament, the Muhammad Ali Center is providing free tours for the students, coaches, parents and judges involved with the competition.
This is the second consecutive year that the state tournament has been held in Louisville. Madison Central High School/Kentucky Tech in Richmond won the 2009 state championship in the mock trial tournament after competing with Louisville’s Eastern High School for the title.
The 2010 Kentucky High School Mock Trial Tournament is hosted by the Kentucky Court of Justice with support from the Muhammad Ali Center. The Muhammad Ali Center is teaming up with State Farm Insurance, the Kentucky Bar Association, Yum! Brands, the University of Louisville Muhammad Ali Institute for Peace and Justice, and Paul A. Casi II, PSC, to sponsor special tournament events.
The competition will be filmed by Bill Siegel, a producer with the Kindling Group, for an upcoming documentary about Ali’s exile years – the three-and-a-half years during which Ali was not allowed to box because of court appeals and trials. Siegel has been following and filming four of the high school mock trial teams as they prepared for the tournament. His film, Muhammad Ali: The Struggle to be Free, will feature the tumultuous time in our country during the Vietnam War and show the relevance of the Ali case for new generations.
Since its inception in 1983, more than 12,000 students, 1,500 judges and 3,000 attorneys have taken part in the Kentucky Mock Trial program. It is one of the many law-related education programs offered for youth through the Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort.
The AOC supports the activities of 3,800 court system employees, including the elected offices of justices, judges and circuit court clerks, and executes the Judicial Branch budget.