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Middle School Students Discovering Justice

Nathan Bishop Middle School students, mentors, and District Court Judge Mary S. McElroy – participants in the Discovering Justice Program

Climate change, social media, and free speech: three relevant real-life issues to a generation of young students were at the heart of a recently argued case in federal court in the District of Rhode Island, where  a “jury” found that Granger High School did not violate the First Amendment rights of a student who was disciplined after a classmate complained about being depicted in an online social media video and threatened over her disposal of trash, and the video’s author’s refusal to remove it from social media.

The student in question, Jordan King, posted a video “calling out” a classmate for contributing to climate change by circulating a video of the classmate throwing recyclable materials into the trash and declaring, “Clean up your act or there will be consequences.” The student depicted in the video, Mel Lee, was upset by the video and felt bullied as the video gained momentum online. The school intervened, citing its anti-bullying policy, and requested that Jordan take down the video. When he refused, the school suspended him.

              The case, a fictitious one based on true-to-life facts and real legal issues, pitted the suspended student against school administrators, and was argued by students attending Nathan Bishop Middle School.  The trial marked the end of the third consecutive semester of the  Discovering Justice Mock Trial Program in Rhode Island, a four-month long civics education initiative that introduces legal and criminal justice concepts to youth that they then apply as they research, prepare, then argue their case before a U.S. District Court judge. The trial followed a semester of weekly after-school sessions where students were mentored by prosecutors and staff from the United States Attorney’s Office.,

              This semester’s mock trial was held in the Providence federal courthouse, presided over by U.S. District Court Judge Mary S. McElroy. Students authored and delivered opening statements; examined and cross-examined witnesses (volunteers from the U.S. Attorney’s Office); and prepared and delivered closing arguments to a volunteer jury that rendered its decision in favor of the school.

United States Attorney Zachary Cunha addressing Discovering Justice students

 United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha, who presented the sixteen Nathan Bishop Middle School students with certificates for their efforts commented, “I had the pleasure of watching an incredibly talented group of middle school students try this fictional. They were well prepared, poised, and did an amazing job, and, equally importantly seemed to have a blast doing it.  This is truly a fantastic program and a great event: the kids learn about the justice system and what they are capable of, and the trial brings together the Court, the community, and the Office in a great way.”

Discovering Justice is a Boston-based, non-profit organization, with more than two dozen programs currently in progress in Massachusetts. Nathan Bishop Middle School is the first Rhode Island school to participate in the program.

Student Amora Rodriguez
Student Benjamin Huyck
Stuent Cloe Gonzalez
Student Erza Timmerman
Student Ezra Waugh
Student Fiona Hughes
Student Francesca Barimah
Student Hannah Manning
Student Jesse Lichtenstein
Student Kate Howlett
Student Kevin Cummings
Student Laith Reda Frayn
Student Malia Beatrice Dupoint
Student Noelle Zesk
Student Nyree-Simone LaFortune
Student Samantha Brightman


Updated January 11, 2024

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