R. Joseph Dieker, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, welcomed everyone with opening remarks and thanked Gary Feldkamp and Bub Long, two C-SC physical plant workers, who built the courtroom. Dieker also spoke about how he recruited Judy Abbott, C-SC senior lecturer in criminal justice and law, two years prior to come to C-SC and start the Mock Trial Program.
Missouri Supreme Court Justice, Mary R. Russell and Local representative, Brian Munzlinger (R-Williamstown) were honored guests at the event.
Justice Russell spoke about the value of mock trial programs for entrance into law school. She also told the students how valuable it is to have a professor like Abbott, who has actually practiced law in a real courtroom.
“This is a great opportunity for students to learn more about the judiciary court,” said Russell. “It is critical for society to have well informed citizens and this is what this courtroom promotes.”
Judge Russell is a native of Hannibal, Mo., and was named to the bench in 2004. She has worked in several areas of law and won many awards including the Equal Justice Award for her efforts to provide pro bono legal services to victims of the flood of 1993.
Representative Munzlinger provided flags for the courtroom that had been flown over the capitol in Jefferson City and spoke about the need for well-trained lawyers in rural areas of Missouri.
“This is the type of setting that students need to become good attorneys,” said Munzlinger. “It goes beyond books.”
Mike Sweeney, senior criminal justice major from Naperville, Ill.; and Jessica Deters, sophomore criminal justice major from LaGrange, Mo., shared their opinions about the program. Both students expressed their thoughts about the things that they have learned in this undergraduate experience and how they feel it sharpened the skills that they will need for law school.
“The mock trial program has sharpened my reading, writing, critical thinking, and public speaking skills,” said Sweeney. “Before I joined mock trial, I could barely talk to a group of five people, now I can argue for a mock trial not guilty verdict in front of a room of people.”
Professor Abbott then spoke about how she so inspired by Culver-Stockton and their willingness to build a courtroom for her program and the students.
“Very few undergraduate institutions have a dedicated courtroom for their Mock Trial Programs,” said Abbott. “Our students walk a little taller, speak a little louder, and argue a little harder in this Courtroom because of the realism it provides. It allows me to teach them courtroom etiquette, trial procedure, and how to deal with their fellow attorneys in a trial setting.”
The ceremony was ended with a question and answer session and with Judge Russell presenting a framed photo of herself and her brethren on the bench of the Supreme Court in Jefferson City.
Photo 1: Mike Sweeney, C-SC senior criminal justice major from Naperville, Ill., speaks with Missouri Representative Brian Munzlinger during the Mock Trial Courtroom Open House held recently on the C-SC campus.
Photo 2: Missouri Supreme Court Justice, Mary R. Russell, addresses the crowd about the value of this kind of program at an undergraduate institution.
Photo 3: The C-SC Mock Trial Team with Judy Abbott, C-SC senior lecturer in criminal justice and law, Missouri Supreme Court Justice, Mary R. Russell, and Missouri Representative Brian Munzlinger.
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