Attorney a help for law-minded kids [UPDATED]Published 10:33am Tuesday, April 12, 2011 Updated 10:33am Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Ask Ashby High School advisor Richard Walton about the benefits of mock trial participation for students, and he quickly points to public speaking.
“The program forces students to think on their feet and speak in public,” said Walton, who also is an attorney in Ashby. “That, in my estimation, is the most important learning experience the students will take away from participation in mock trial.”
This year Walton, who has served as mock trial advisor for 19 years, received the Minnesota State Bar Association Mock Trial Volunteer of the Year award.
The Minnesota High School Mock Trial Program is a law-related education program that introduces high school students to the American legal system and provides a challenging opportunity for personal growth and achievement. As part of the mock trial program, students exercise their critical thinking and teamwork skills, as well as the basic skills learned in the classroom.
Mock Trial, which this year celebrated its 25th anniversary, is an academic program sponsored and administered by the Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA).
“We practice five days a week, one hour with each of two teams,” said Walton. “We had four major competitions this year.”
He said that most team members also participate in other activities such as music, athletics, speech, and you name it. Area teams with mock trial, along with Ashby, include Battle Lake and Bemidji.
Walton’s son, Jason, competed with the Ashby mock trial team in 1997 and 1998. Today he’s working as an accountant in Fargo.
Walton spent his childhood days in both New York and California. He served as an attorney for 20 years in the Marine Corps, during which time he met his future wife, Linda, a native of Evansville. In a desire to leave the big city, they settled in Ashby in 1992.
“It was a decision we’ve never regretted,” said Walton. “Ashby is a wonderful community.”
In turn, Ashby is happy to have the Waltons as city residents. “Richard does most of the city’s legal work with no charge,” said City Clerk/Treasurer Val Martin. “It’s an unbelievable contribution to the community and saves us a lot of money.”
As for mock trial in 2010-11, Walton said, “This year’s team was the best I’ve ever had. We had about 25 juniors and seniors participating, on the two teams. We had the opportunity to take part in a mock trial invitational at St. Cloud Apollo.”