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High school students go to court

MOCK TRIAL -- Forest Grove is one of seven schools to enter event at county courthouse

Forest Grove will join six other high schools in trying a mock trial case this Saturday at the Washington County Courthouse, 145 N.E. Second Ave. in Hillsboro.

The team, coached by John Knowles, will compete to represent the county at the 21st annual Oregon High School Mock Trial Competition. Participants include about 150 students representing 11 teams from seven schools.

Other participants include Jesuit High School in Raleigh Hills, Merlo Station High School in Beaverton, Oregon Episcopal School in Portland, Scappoose High School, Sunset High School in Beaverton and Westview High School in Rock Creek.

Students will try the case of Johnson v. Brewster, patterned after Seraw v. Metzger, one of Oregon's legal cases of the century. Seraw, an Ethiopian, was murdered in 1988 by Portland skinheads who had been in communication with Metzger's white supremacist organization.

The mock trial defendants, T. Brewster and Michael Miller, are being sued for the wrongful death of Leon Johnson. Students know only minutes before the trial begins whether they will be arguing for the plaintiff or for the defense. Students assume the roles of attorneys and witnesses.

Each team will argue the case three times throughout the course of the day. Three teams will advance to the state finals on March 16 and 17 in Portland. The team that wins the state finals will travel to Dallas, Tex., in May to represent Oregon at the National Mock Trial Championships.

The mock trial contest is co-sponsored by the Oregon State Bar and the Classroom Law Project. Each year approximately 1,500 students across Oregon participate in the event, and about 500 attorneys and teachers volunteer their time to coach teams and judge rounds of competition.

The public is welcome to observe the March 3 competition.

For more information, contact Camille Tourje at 503-939-6774 or log on to www.classroomlaw.org.