Mock Trial Association Relents: Jewish School Wins Full Participation In Competition
Update: The 2009 Mock Trial competition was held in Atlanta, May 6-10, 2009. The team from Maimonides High School placed 20th out of 41.
Atlanta, Ga., May 7, 2009 ... The National High School Mock Trial Association now says it will alter its schedule to allow a Jewish High School to fully participate in the national mock trial competition, which will be held in Atlanta starting tonight.
The Anti-Defamation League intervened when students of Maimonides High School of Brookline, Mass. were told they would have to participate in trial rounds scheduled for Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, or forfeit the opportunity to become national champions. Observant Jews are forbidden to work or to engage in many other activities on Shabbat.
"We made a simple request of the mock trial association: alter the schedule to allow Maimonides a fair opportunity to compete, and do not punish them for their religious convictions," said Bill Nigut, Southeast Regional Director of ADL. "We are thrilled that the students now have that opportunity."
ADL Southeast Regional Board Chair Elizabeth Price praised Judge Doris Downs, Chief Judge of Fulton County Superior Courts, who told the mock trial association they could not hold the competition in Fulton County courts if all schools could not fully participate.
"Georgia is fortunate to have courageous and thoughtful judges such as Judge Downs, who refused to allow the state courthouse to be used unless the Maimonides team was accommodated," Ms. Price said.
Ms. Price also praised Fulton State Court Judge Diane Bessen who withdrew from judging the competition rather than see the Maimonides students excluded. "When brave and fair minded people stand up to discrimination, they can change the world a little at a time," Ms. Price said. "And what better lesson to teach our children than this?"
When the Georgia State Bar, which is the local host for the competition, refused to support accommodation for the Maimonides students, Ms. Price tendered her resignation as a member of the Bar's board of governors.
Bill Nigut said that while ADL welcomes the last-minute decision on Maimonides, the organization will write to the mock trail association and next year's host committee to encourage them to ensure that this problem does not happen again.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.