Catholic High students, Spencer Heitman, Drake Brignac, Jack Rittenberry and Stewart Roeling were chosen to participate in the National Judicial Competition in Chicago this past August. They represented Louisiana along with eleven other students from across the state. The candidates were chosen after an initial application and interview with Youth and Government alumni representatives. Knowledge of government and legal processes as well as an ability to articulate ideas and speak publicly were part of the selection criteria. This year was Louisiana’s first time to send a delegation and compete with delegates from 26 other states.
NJC is facilitated by the YMCA and began six years ago. There are two parts to the program including mock trial and appellate. In mock trial, participants are given a case and take on varying roles such as prosecutor, plaintiff, witness and defendant. At the appellate level, delegates are given a case along with guiding precedents. The teams then compete, presenting their arguments in federal courtrooms in the presence of actual judges.
While there is a high degree of peer competitiveness as the students practice law, the process encourages respect and relationship building. Participants learn judicial processes and courtroom etiquette. Eddrick Martin, executive director at the YMCA and one of the sponsors attending the event, was enthusiastic about the performance of Louisiana’s premier delegation. He is already planning for next year and hopes to have practicing legal professionals guide the team as they prepare for future competitions.
The students spent most of their time in Chicago in courtrooms, but they did do some sightseeing. They walked Miracle Mile, went to the top of John Hancock tower, saw The Bean, and enjoyed a dinner cruise on Lake Michigan. Days began at 5:30 a.m. and ended with meetings adjourning at midnight. NJC made for a very full week, and one the group is looking forward to again next year.