By: Melinda Tuhus
The defense lawyer confronted the witness for the prosecution with pointed questions that eventually elicited a damaging admission. The prosecutor mimed a jubilant, under-the-breath “gotcha!” when a witness for the defense was forced to admit a statement that hurt his case. The tension built inside the courtroom as both sides made their arguments.
It was high drama — inside Jeremy Stone’s Advanced U.S. Government class at Common Ground High School.
The students — including freshmen through seniors — took on roles as witnesses or attorneys during a “trial” at the school. Real-life lawyer Michael Sheehan (who also teaches at Yale Law School) played the role of judge. This journalist played courtroom reporter, to lend an air of realism.
The trial revolved around the issue of whether a fictitious aging coal-burning power plant in “Hazy Valley” failed to comply with the Clear Air Act and whether it should be allowed to engage in trading pollution credits, which would create even more local pollution.