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Mock trial gives VGCC Criminal Justice students courtroom experience

Students in the Criminal Justice Technology program at Vance-Granville Community College recently took what they have been learning in the classroom into a simulated real-world setting through a “mock trial” exercise. VGCC students in a Court Procedure and Evidence ( CJC 132 ) class tested their knowledge in a trial setting, with class members playing the parts of prosecutors, defense attorneys, defendants, witnesses, bailiffs, court reporters and jurors. “The class as a whole had the opportunity to showcase their overall knowledge of judicial procedures and admissibility of evidence during this mock trial,” said instructor Tony Clark.


First, on Nov. 2, students practiced in class, with Ninth District Court Judge Quon Bridges presiding. Bridges, who has experience as both a prosecutor and defense attorney, has served as a judge since 2007 and is also a former Oxford City Commissioner. In their first exercise, students argued a case involving a high school student accused of possession of a controlled substance. Bridges talked with the students about courtroom decorum and tactics used by attorneys. He critiqued the students’ performances and asked them about their career aspirations. The judge applauded Clark for conducting the exercise, saying that future law enforcement officers could use more training about testifying in court.


On Nov. 4, the mock trial itself was held at the Warren County Courthouse in Warrenton. Allison Capps, assistant district attorney for the Ninth District, served as the judge. Student Maria Clark of Oxford argued the case as the prosecuting attorney. Rashod Moss of Oxford represented a defendant accused of disposing of the corpse of her late husband, who had committed suicide, in order to take advantage of insurance money. The prosecutor called student Wyatt Senter of Franklinton to testify as the law enforcement officer who investigated the crime, and she introduced various pieces of evidence. In the end, the jury of students found the defendant not guilty. Capps said that the mock trial participants did a “good job” but also pointed out the differences between their exercise and an actual trial.


“I’m very proud of our students for the creativity and skill that they demonstrated during the mock trial,” said Andrea Ferguson, the head of the VGCC Criminal Justice program. “In addition to the students, I would like to thank Sheriff Johnny Williams and Clerk of Court Richard Hunter for allowing us to use the courtroom, and I am grateful to Judge Quon Bridges, Allison Capps and Instructor Tony Clark for coordinating the mock trial exercises.”


For more information on the VGCC Criminal Justice program , call Andrea Ferguson at (252) 738-3441.  


Above: From left, VGCC Criminal Justice student Maria Clark acts as the “prosecutor,” local assistant district attorney Allison Capps presides as the “judge,” student Wyatt Senter describes evidence while playing a “law enforcement officer” on the witness stand, and student Tamary Tuck acts as the “court reporter” during the mock trial at the Warren County Courthouse on Nov. 4. (VGCC photo)