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STREET LAW Takes Miami Teens To Court

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Later this month, 24 students from five Miami area high schools will present mock cases before judges on the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida.

U.S. District Judge Paul Huck and U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick White will hear the students' arguments in the mock trials.

The trials, on March 14, are the culmination of a three-day "Law Camp," held over spring break since 2007 and organized by Miami STREET LAW, a legal outreach program that trains law students to teach law at schools throughout Miami-Dade County. On the opening day, the students – from Coral Gables High School, Hialeah Senior High School, Miami Edison Senior High School, Miami Senior High School and Palmer Trinity School – will be asked to argue a case about a drunken-driving incident.

Professors Terence J. Anderson and Ricardo J. Bascuas will instruct them in trial procedure and rules of evidence. Following a discussion on career opportunities in the legal field, the second day will be spent preparing for the next day's trial, with assistance from second- and third-year students from the STREET LAW program.

"This legal outreach to high school students provides a unique way for teens to learn about legal careers, to experience the judicial system interactively in a positive way, and to meet excellent judges and law students," said Professor Karen Throckmorton, who directs the program. "Each year the students argue their cases in federal courtrooms before real judges and receive advice from the judges on the study of law and on setting goals in life. One successful Law Camp attendee from Miami Senior High now studies at the University of Miami and interns in Miami STREET LAW. She will be speaking on a panel discussion here at the Law Camp this year on her educational path."

The mission of the program is to empower youth through interactive education about law, democracy, and human rights while furthering the professional development of law students.

Students who participate in Miami STREET LAW obtain course credit while they experience a unique, professional development opportunity. Through teaching about the law and interacting with the community, law students are given a chance to analyze state and local laws and procedures. Additionally, as STREET LAW classes use interactive teaching strategies – including mock trials, moot courts and simulated negotiations – students can hone their communication and analytical skills while gaining exposure to other professionals and the community. STREET LAW injects a human element into law school education, providing students with insight into public policy issues and concerns that impact their community.

Miami STREET LAW provides the South Florida community with essential legal information and helps high school students navigate through our law-saturated society. The Program serves to put lawyers in a positive light while at the same time creating positive role models for the students who participate in the classes. An ancillary long-term goal of the program is to increase diversity in the legal profession.

For more information, please contact Professor Karen Throckmorton at kthrockm@law.miami.edu or 305-284-1382.