Glendale City Court Mock Trial

Glendale City Court Mock Trial
Posted on 05/24/2024


Seventh through ninth-graders gain valuable life skills making cases before real-life judge

The proceedings in Glendale City Court Thursday took a unique turn as several seventh through ninth-graders portrayed attorneys, a bailiff, witnesses and a defendant making their cases in front of real-life Glendale Presiding Judge Nicholas C. DiPiazza in a dynamic mock trial.

Judge DiPiazza provided invaluable legal lessons to the focused, well-prepared students from the homeschool group/co-op Sonoran Classical Community who participated in the mock, fictional criminal trial about a real estate developer charged with reckless homicide in the deaths of two people at a construction site. A mock jury made up of parents listened intently and beamed with pride as the budding legal minds asked and answered questions as Judge DiPiazza sat on the bench and offered gentle guidance to students, who dressed professionally.

The simulated trial was part of students’ debate curriculum and gave them the opportunity to practice their critical thinking, presentation and rhetorical skills.

“We are pleased to give back to the community by offering students lessons in court proceedings so they can develop essential skills they will need not only to pursue careers in the legal profession but to succeed in any industry,” Judge DiPiazza said. “Understanding the legal system is important for everyone to be contributing members of society and know their rights as citizens. The Sonoran Classical Community students did an excellent job of researching the merits of this fictional case and presenting themselves professionally, while thinking on their feet and accepting my feedback.”

Students took turns portraying defense and prosecuting attorneys and witnesses, along with the defendant and bailiff in two different rounds of the mock trial. The student playing the bailiff escorted the students taking on the witness roles to the stand and asked them to pledge to tell the truth. Those pretending to be attorneys asked for the judge’s permission to hand out “evidence” or documents meant to sway jurors in the mock case written by Jonathan A. Grode and Paul W. Kaufman for the 2013 Pennsylvania Statewide High School Mock Trial. This story was about how high-wind remnants of Hurricane Isaac hit the Delaware Valley while workers on a major urban renewal project in Philadelphia rushed to finish a key part of their development: a new roof for the building. In the fictional case, the wind caught the panel mid-lift, causing the largest crane on the East Coast, called “Fightin’ Phil,” to collapse, killing a squatter who lived in the trench and a federal construction official.

The students portraying defense attorneys aimed to make the defendant seem like he had good intentions for a sustainable development as he grew up experiencing homelessness and they also tried to convince jurors that one of the squatters was mentally unstable. This case study said squatters, facing the impending loss of their home, engaged in sabotage. Those who pretended to be prosecuting attorneys strived to prove the defendant and his company were hurrying to finish the project as delays that had occurred would have prevented the work from meeting a bonus deadline. They also asked witnesses about safety issues and following federal workplace safety standards.

Before the mock trial began, Judge DiPiazza taught students fundamentals of legal proceedings, including how defendants are “innocent until proven guilty.” He shared that in criminal cases, the prosecution is required to prove the defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

While TV shows about courtroom cases are “all about drama,” in real-world trials “we’re all about getting to the truth,” DiPiazza said. He said he and other judges, as well as attorneys, are always learning new information.

The Glendale City Court, which handles misdemeanor cases, recently celebrated the completion of extensive renovations that allow enhanced, more efficient and comfortable service for residents, as well as functionality for employees and bright, modern aesthetics. To learn more about the court, visit