Young legal eagles set for New York court date

A Cork Leaving Certificate student will stand up in a New York court later this month to defend a white policeman accused of the wrongful shooting of a young African American man.
Young legal eagles set for New York court date

Maróg Murphy, aged 17, will be one of two defence attorneys in the case, which will be heard in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn.

Along with fellow attorney Christina O’Donovan, Maróg will strive to win over the jury in a highly charged court case in which an off-duty policeman chased a thief before shooting him.

The case is fictitious but the two young legal eagles will be in court as members of a school group from Bandon.

They will join students from schools all over the US, Canada, Australia, Korea, Britain, and others in the Empire Mock Trials World Finals in New York.

Two teachers and 16 students from the third, fourth, fifth, and Leaving Cert years at Coláiste na Toirbhirte, Bandon, will fly to New York on Wednesday week. The students have been collaborating on the project since early June.

“We’re very excited about it,” says Maróg, who along with the other students in the group, was originally involved in The Public Access to Law Module — part of the Transition Year programme.

“The case was 200 pages long,” said Maróg. “It’s actually based on a number of real-life cases so we have all the affidavits from witnesses and we’ve been provided with documented evidence that was presented at real-life trials.

“There was an awful lot of reading and research involved. Because this is a fictitious case based on real-life cases, we also did a lot of research into several actual cases about similar incidents.”

The Bandon school had been runners-up in the National Mock Trials finals last May in the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin.

For that competition, students were provided with the full barrister’s attire of wigs and gowns, and given two cases to prosecute and defend.

“There were around 20 students involved, and these played the roles of the two barristers, the solicitor, the court registrar and the witnesses,” said their teacher, Siobhan Fitzgerald.

“They got into character and dressed up to play the different roles.”

Now the budding Bandon legal eagles will test their skills on the world stage — but wearing business suits, as is the norm in American courts.

“The students must both prosecute and defend this case,” said Ms Fitzgerald. “We have five witnesses for the prosecution in this case and five for the defence.”

Prosecuting attorney Ruth Crowley, also a Leaving Certificate student, will share the role with Christina O’Donovan.

“The girls worked very hard on this case throughout the summer, and also, since school started, after school and at weekends,” said Ms Fitzgerald. “The investment they have put into this has been outstanding.”

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