Students throughout the province are hard at work preparing to compete in the 2022 OBA-OJEN Competitive Mock Trial (OOCMT) tournaments. Now in its eighth year, the program underwent modifications last year so it would remain accessible to students during the Covid-19 pandemic. Student teams prepare for the competition in online sessions with their lawyer coaches. Instead of facing each other in the courtroom, they present their arguments over Zoom in front of a panel of judges.
In addition to the regular tournament format, an alternate format was introduced, which allows teachers and students to engage with the same case material without specific time commitments. Students are invited to submit opening and/or closing arguments based on witness testimony prepared by OBA lawyers. They receive feedback from lawyer volunteers and top submissions may receive awards.
The 2022 case scenario, R v Smalls, involves a case of assault set in a detention facility. The case asks questions about gang affiliation, self-defence, and what level of security an institution owes to the people it houses.
Since it was first offered, the OOCMT program has been extremely popular with students and teachers in high schools throughout Ontario. Approximately 1600 students participated in pre-pandemic competitions. While we all miss the in-person tournaments, the design modifications to the program have made it possible to continue what many students view as the highlight of the school year. Building on the success of last year’s virtual program, 6 local tournaments and a provincial-style tournament are taking place this spring – 2 more than last year. Most tournaments will be taking place online, however 2 regions are planning to host in-person tournaments. One region is hosting their tournament in a hybrid format.
We want to extend a big thank you to all of our volunteers who have worked tirelessly and flexibly to ensure a great experience for all our OOCMT participants this year!