Matoaca High School senior Sam Kennedy recently had the privilege and honor to present a defense appeals argument in front of the Virginia Supreme Court. As a participant in the Model Judiciary Program for the state of Virginia – sponsored by the Young Lawyers Bar Association and the YMCA – Sam was able to prepare a second-degree murder case as defense counsel. This program provides a unique opportunity for aspiring lawyers to actually prepare criminal or civil cases and present legal arguments in real-life court situations.
Sam began the process at the class-room level, taking an elective this year called Practical Law. This elective is designed to introduce students to a general knowledge of the legal system in America. As part of the planned curriculum, a mock trial is staged after several weeks of preparation by the students in each class. Students are selected for the Model Judiciary Program from each class who desire to perform the trial in front of actual judges. Assisted by attorneys who volunteer their time and energy for this program, Sam prepared his first defense argument for the Richmond Circuit Court. After securing a “not- guilty” verdict for his client, he presented his first appeals argument to the Richmond Appeals Court. Competing against several schools from the Richmond area, he was then selected to participate in the final round in front of the Virginia Supreme Court, again winning with a ten-minute defense argument.
This was the first time a Matoaca student advanced to the last round at the Virginia Supreme Court level. Congratulations to Sam Kennedy for his outstanding performance. Many thanks to the lawyers, Tracy Hague and Ashley Dobbin at Leclair Ryan Law Firm, and Matoaca High Practical Law instructor Esther McGuire, who provided guidance and advice to Sam during his many hours of preparation.