OBA-OJEN Competitive Competitive and Alternative Mock Trials (OOCMT)
Congratulations to all our OOCMT participants this year! Teachers, your hard work and organization was truly amazing to witness. Students, your dedication to university/professional-level legal issues was incredible. We especially wish to congratulate the winners of each of the four tournaments hosted this year:
- The Halton Tournament was held on May 7 and Christ the King Secondary School was the winner.
- The Peel Tournament was held on March 9, 10, and 11. The Final was held on April 8 and St. Joseph Catholic Secondary School was the winner.
- The Toronto Tournament was held on April 27 and 28. The Final was held on April 5 and Western Technical-Commercial School was the winner.
- The Provincial Tournament was held on April 21 and 22. The Final was held on April 29, and Sacred Heart Catholic High School was the winner.
All tournaments were held completely over Zoom with lawyer coaches, judges, and parents and loved ones in attendance. Hopefully a one-off year, but we couldn't be more proud of everybody involved. Congratulations to all and have a restful break. See you in 2022!
The OBA/OJEN Competitive Mock Trials (OOCMT) is a partnership between the Ontario Bar Association (OBA) and the Ontario Justice Education Network (OJEN), and the OBA Foundation. Most competitive mock trial tournaments in the province are part of OOCMT, which means they use the official OOCMT case and rules, and their winners may participate in upper-level competitions organized by the OBA and OJEN. Schools that register a team can be matched with a local lawyer-volunteer to act as their team coach. This program can accommodate students from Grades 9 – 12.
As 2021 is certainly not a ‘typical’ year, the OBA and OOCMT has undergone some temporary changes in order to better serve the needs of our participants and organizers. This year, in partnership with OJEN, we are pleased to offer the program in two formats to give students, teachers and lawyers the flexibility to participate. Details of each format are covered below:
The Competitive Format
The competitive format will be an online version of a traditional mock trial. It will be quasi-provincial nature, in that registered teams from one region will not necessarily compete against another team from their own region.
Here are some of the basics:
- Teams will be matched with coaches from their regions. While this year is different in many ways, it is important to maintain the facilitation of local connections, and regional cohesion. While in some cases coaches from one region may help in another where supply is shorter, the same local-based framework as always will still apply to the online mock trials.
- Every team will need at least one videoconferencing account in order to participate in their online tournament. Depending on the team’s capacity, preference, and safety guidelines from respective school boards, they may plan to be in the same room while physically distancing, or they may choose to join a call from separate accounts.
- OJEN will provide matrices for which teams will play each other at which times, as per usual.
- OJEN will provide the Zoom account and host the meeting for each hearing. OJEN will admit participants, oversee audio and video settings, and in general moderate the technical aspects of each hearing.
- OJEN will ensure only the participant conducting an examination, one opposing participant, the witness, the judge, and the clerk have video and audio functionality at once. In other words, the reality of real court will be reflected virtually.
The Alternative Format
- In order to avoid creating a competitive advantage for any participants, teams involved in the online tournament will be precluded from participating in the alternative format, or from using the testimony recorded by lawyers to prepare their own strategies.
- The alternative format is designed to be more flexible and accessible than the competitive format in a few different ways.
- In contrast to the competitive format, delivering the alternative format allows participants to submit as individuals, as small groups, or as a whole class. The resources for the alternative format will also be available to participants from February until the end of the school year.
- We also offer students an online message board they can use to discuss ideas and strategies with one another while they prepare their submissions. One sub-forum on these boards is an "ask-an-expert" where they can post substantive questions about their arguments, seek cases in support of these, and receive feedback from lawyers.
- Participants can submit an Opening Statement based on the facts of the case scenario for either Crown or Defence. They can also submit a Closing Statement based on the witness examination video resource. These can be done either in writing or by video submission. If participants choose to submit their statements by video, they do not necessarily need access to a videoconferencing platform. We will accept video submissions in MP4 or .mov video formats.
- Once submissions are received, they will be reviewed by lawyer volunteers, who will provide feedback on the participants’ arguments based on their professional experience and their reading of the case scenario.
Timeline for Local Tournaments for the Competitive Format
OOCMT mock trial tournaments will take place in the spring of 2021, with event dates between late March and mid-May. While some of our larger tournaments will still be held in their respective regions, a provincial-style tournament will be facilitated for participants in places where a regional tournament is not available.
Registration dates are also set by local tournaments, and registration is open in most regions at this time. In most cases, registration will not close until February 2021. Note that registration in Peel Region and the City of Toronto will have a shorter registration window due to the popularity of those tournaments and their limited capacity. Please View OJEN website for more information http://ojen.ca/en/oocmt.
Publication of Case and Materials
No significant changes have been made to the tournament materials (Official Rules, Tournament Guide, Marking Scheme) for this year.
Every year, we produce a new case scenario, which will be used for all tournaments. The case comes out first in a draft form, with a period afterwards for prospective participants to submit questions which may require clarification, or any errors noticed. The final version is usually published about two weeks after the first draft. It is very rare for any major changes to be made to the case in the final version.