Date(s) - 05/21/2022
9:15 AM - 12:00 PM
Pinellas Justice Center
Moot Court for At-Risk Students to be Held at County Justice Center
CLEARWATER – There will be a very special and unusual moot court competition for middle and high school students this Saturday, May 21, at the Pinellas County Justice Center.
“The students participating in this event are at risk of having encounters with law enforcement,” said Pinellas County Judge James Pierce, who is helping facilitate the competition. “Moot Court offers them the opportunity to experience working in the legal system and possibly contemplate becoming attorneys and judges.”
The competition will be hosted by Youth Development Initiatives Inc. (YDI), a comprehensive co-educational intergenerational youth development program serving youth between the ages 10-18, with a special emphasis on recruitment and intake of youth at the 6th grade level.
It is designed to promote health and wellness, build self-esteem, develop leadership skills, and help the students master the skills and competencies that foster success in school, the community, and, ultimately, in life.
The moot court competition comes one month after YDI put on a forum at the Clearwater campus of St. Petersburg College at which at-risk boys and girls, accompanied by their parents, were able to to interact with Black and other minority judges outside the courtroom.
Three Sixth Circuit judges have agreed to help decide the winners at competition. They are Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Phil Matthey, Pinellas-Pasco Judge Keith Meyer, and Pinellas County Judge Lorraine Kelly. Retired Pinellas County Judge Myriam Irizarry will also lend a hand.
Members of the Clearwater Bar will also help as judges or evaluators at the event.
All told, there will be four cases that touch on First and Fourth Amendment constitutional issues which will be up for argument. One involves a bank robbery in Florida City; another a drug detection dog alerting detectives to a marijuana grow operation inside a house in Miami-Dade; the third a senior selling drugs at his high school; and the fourth students wearing armbands at school to protest the war in Afghanistan.
Four attorneys earlier this year helped the students prepare. They are: David Moran, Donna Boonchit, Kali deVlaming and Zilya Ruga.
The judges will arrive at CJC at 9 a.m., with the competition beginning soon afterwards.