Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do you need be taking a law course or in a particular grade to participate?
A: No. Participating students just have to be in high school at any grade level, although individual schools may choose to restrict the school team to students in law courses or a particular grade level, which is at each school’s discretion.
Q: Can schools submit more than one team?
A: Generally, no. As space in the courthouse venues is at a premium, schools can generally only submit one team. In some exceptional circumstances where space exists, schools may be invited to submit additional teams, but this is rare. Teachers who have fielded two teams often report that dispersing resources and energy between two teams can be a detriment to both. You can, however, refer to the Tournament Guide to see how you can run an in-school tournament, and you can always involve more students than just the school team in the educational experience of a mock trial within your own school.
Q: Can I bring a whole class to the tournament?
A: No. Many tournaments have upwards of 12 teams competing in the courthouse at one time, and the space would be overwhelmed if every school brought a whole class of students. A small number of student spectators may attend with the team, and parents of participants are welcome. Local tournaments with fewer space constraints may relax this policy at their discretion.
Q: Can we take photos during mock trials at the courthouse?
A: Tournament organizers will take steps to allow the taking of photos in courtrooms, which is often permitted for mock trials even though it is strictly forbidden when court is in session. However, please refer to your local tournament’s instructions for the rules for your tournament location before taking any photographs. In certain circumstances, it is against the law to take photographs inside a courthouse. Therefore, do not ever take photos inside the hallways and common areas of the courthouse, even if you have been given permission to do so in the courtrooms being used for the mock trials.
Q: Can we use electronic devices in the courtrooms?
A: We encourage participants to print any typed notes they may have, as one can never rely too heavily on technology. You should never rely on access to wifi in courthouses, many of which do not have it. That said, there is no major issue with using a tablet or a laptop at the podium when you are addressing the court. However, when sitting at the counsel table while others are speaking, remember that the use of laptops and phones, in particular, can be distracting to the proceedings if care is not taken. You may certainly take your phone up to the podium when speaking to time yourself, but keep it on silent.
If you need to use a laptop or any other device because of a disability, and your use of it might otherwise seem distracting or disrespectful, you or someone else on your team should simply inform the judges right at the beginning of the trial, during team introductions, and ask for permission to use the device, which the judges will surely grant. If you have any concerns about this, you can also speak to tournament organizers before your tournament to seek clarification on the use of any device.
Q: Will there be a provincial championship or something beyond our local tournament?
A: When the OBA and OJEN partnered to revamp the provincial mock trial program in 2014, we stopped holding a championship tournament in Toronto for local tournament winners. This was done because, at the time, a considerable amount of money and resources were going to the provincial event at the expense of supporting the local tournaments where the majority of schools and students participated. The aim was to bring mock trial tournaments to more regions of the province, and to improve the quality of those tournaments with the resources redirected from the provincial event.
There are currently no plans for a provincial tournament or anything beyond the local tournaments.