Young people around the country are inspiring change and political activism among their peers. At Bailey & Wyant, PLLC we believe it's essential to empower high school students to have a clear understanding of the Constitution and their rights under it.
Our Associate, Michael Taylor instructs a group of junior and senior George Washington High School students on Constitutional Law. Every weekday, he helps students understand the importance of the U.S. Constitution and how it is applicable to everyday life.
“This class teaches them important life skills,” explains Taylor. “To be able to process information, especially when it comes in fragmented pieces, and understand it is an essential life skill. Being able to understand and have the skills necessary to clearly communicate that information is something that will allow them to succeed throughout their lives.”
Taylor engages students in the understanding of the legal system through his lessons, helping students formulate oral arguments and prepare for mock trial.
“You've got the facts, the law, the human element of witnesses and you have to take those pieces and put them together in a clear picture for the jury,” explains Taylor. “All of the puzzle pieces are scattered on the table and it's their responsibility to arrange them in a persuasive way that makes sense to the jury.”
Bailey & Wyant, PLLC Associates Unaiza Riaz and Harrison Cyrus assisted Taylor the week before trial and sat in as mentors for both the prosecution and defense.
“I saw remarkable analytical skills in such young students,” said Associate, Unaiza Riaz. “As I worked with my team, I wanted to help them see their legal issues from difference perspectives. It's important to review the problem from different angles to see what its strengths and weaknesses are, so that you are better prepared for trial.”
The trial received its final verdict today from a jury of unbiased students from another classroom. They sat in on the trial this week with no prior knowledge to the information, heard the facts and the law and made their determination of Not Guilty. For classroom purposes, the jury was asked to explain how they came to the decision and while many believed the defendant to be guilty, they did not believe he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and needed more evidence to support sentencing.
“It was fun to have to think critically,” said senior, Wesley Reed.
GWHS junior, Jaylie Harris said, “I wish we did more mock trials.”
“I'm learning more than I would be able to in other classes,” said Senior, Grace Walker-Matthews. “I'm learning so much every day that I can use in real life, not just this class. Walker-Matthews plans to major in Criminology at WVU in the fall.
Taylor said they were the most prepared group he's ever had because they took it seriously. He went on to explain that he was proud of them for persuasively presenting their themes of the case to the jury.
The year-long class meets every weekday and is a dual credit course offered through West Virginia State University and George Washington High School. School officials and staff have been supportive and encouraging to Taylor and the positive impact the course is having on students.