Students from across majors had their day in court as part of ELATE, a new program that staged a mock trial, with students as attorneys and witnesses.
The Emerson College Law Advocacy and Trial Establishment program was a first for Emerson, and was organized by Political Communication major Michael Simon ’19, who got the idea after he found out Emerson would be offering pre-law classes.
Many Emerson students were involved in the trial, which was held in a mock courtroom at neighboring Suffolk University on Friday, March 27.
Attorneys comprised PoliComm, Journalism, and Visual and Media Arts majors. Theater majors acted as witnesses to the case, and VMA majors helped produce the event. Simon worked closely with Emerson Channel and Emerson Independent Video, he said.
One of the defense attorneys was Broadcast Journalism major Giuliana Bruno ’19. She said she was excited to participate as soon as she found out about the event at the Emerson Channel general meeting.
“My eyes just lit up when I saw it on the projector,” Bruno said. She said she always been interested in law, and participated in mock trial in high school.
Simon, who was also a defense attorney, said he originally had several ideas for the ELATE event, including a courtroom drama and recreating a famous court case. He decided to do a mock trial so participants would get the most out of the event, he said.
The case was about a woman who was hit by an Uber driver. The winning defense argued that the driver was not negligent or distracted while driving.
The attorneys worked around the clock, according to Simon. Instead of giving them facts about the case from the beginning, they had to go through a discovery phase, as attorneys do in actual court cases. They also had to depose the witnesses.
ELATE was a lot of work, according to Bruno. In normal mock trials, Bruno said you would get a packet with all of the information for a trial, but for ELATE, students had to investigate themselves.
“I kind of had no idea how much it would be going into it, but it’s probably one of the most rewarding things I’ve done at my time at Emerson,” Bruno said. She said it was surreal to participate in a mock trial in a courtroom with a real judge, Isaac Borenstein.
Simon said he hopes to see ELATE continue in future semesters.
“My ultimate goal is that I can come back to Emerson two or three years down the line and see the mock trial still happening,” he said.