Birmingham Public Library, Birmingham Bar Foundation to Host Student Mock Trial Program

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) and the Birmingham Bar Foundation, in conjunction with the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of Alabama, are joining forces to host the Spring 2017 Student Mock Trial Program.

The program is designed to introduce 30 students from grades six through 12 to the critical thinking, technology, and advocacy skills utilized in trial practice, said Lance Simpson, teen librarian for BPL. After learning and developing these skills, the program will culminate in a mock trial conducted in a courtroom. During the trial, program participants will assume the roles of lawyers, witnesses, and judge.

“We are excited to announce a new mock trial program for middle and high school students that will take place at our Central Library,” Simpson said. “We will have an informal meeting to provide an introduction to the program for interested students and parents on Thursday, January 19, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.”

All of the Student Mock Trial Program classes will be held in the Teen Zone Learning Lab on the second floor of the Central Library. Classes will be taught by distinguished Birmingham area attorneys, Simpson said. Classes will run weekly from Thursday, January 19 through Thursday, March 16.

“We will meet after school at 3:30 p.m. each week, and will generally finish up around 5 p.m.,” Simpson said. “Teens will have the opportunity to study the justice system in depth, not only learning laws and legal procedures, but practicing their own skills in a mock trial in an actual courtroom.”

Due to limited space, advanced registration for the program is required. For more information, call Simpson at 205-226-3655 or e-mail him at You may register online through the BPL event calendar.

Schedule for Spring 2017 Student Mock Trial Program 
The eight-week program begins Thursday, January 19, 2017, ends Thursday, March 16, 2017, and will be held every Thursday from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. Each session will be taught by distinguished and experienced trial attorneys. The sessions will include:

Week 1. Introduction to the Program & QA (less than one hour)
Week 2. Overview of the Criminal Justice System
Week 3. Case Analysis and Brainstorming
Week 4. Opening Statements & Evidence
Week 5. Witness Examinations
Week 6. Closing Arguments
Week 7. Courtroom Technology & Preparation for the Mock Trial
Week 8. Preparation for Mock Trial
Week 9. Mock Trial

During the first week, all participants and community members are welcome to attend a brief overview of the program and its goals. The second week’s program will provide an overview of the criminal justice system. During weeks three through seven, the participants will be given an introductory presentation by distinguished local attorneys on necessary trial skills. At the conclusion of the presentation, the participants will be placed into small learning groups and each participant will be given individual instruction on the trial skill and an opportunity to practice the skill.

During the final week of the program, the participants will utilize the skills they have been taught in the preceding weeks by assuming the roles of participants in a trial and arguing a case before a jury.