Mildred Avenue K-8 students argue free speech in mock trial

Angel Sosa, second from right, of the Mildred Avenue K-8, argues his case in the Mock Trial Program.
Photos courtesy Discovering Justice

William Tom, of the Mildred Avenue K-8, watches the reactions of the judge during the mock trial.

Students from Mattapan’s Mildred Avenue K-8 School were among the middle schoolers who participated in a 10-week mentorship program with law offices, law schools, and state offices this fall.

The program culminated in an in-person mock trial at the John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse last month in which students presented their cases in hour-long trials to determine the outcome of a First Amendment case centered around a student’s free speech rights. 

In the case, Jordan King v. Granger School District, King uses TikTok to aggressively call out fellow classmates for their environmental practices. Principal Smith tells King to take down her posts, she refuses, and is suspended. King initiates a case against her school district for violating her First Amendment right to free speech.

“Our Mock Trial Program prepares middle school students to engage on important issues in our democracy,” said Matt Wilson, executive director of Discovering Justice. “This fall, students across the Commonwealth had the unique opportunity to learn about First Amendment free speech issues, examine the workings of the justice system, and explore and question the ideals of justice.”

Discovering Justice is a civic education non-profit that provides after-school programs as well as in-school civics and social studies curriculum for K-12 students. Taught by experienced legal mentors, students grapple with real constitutional issues, develop persuasive arguments, and practice questioning and examining witnesses.

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