Judge Ken Starr volunteers his expertise to WHS Mock Trial Team

Judge Ken Starr volunteers his expertise to WHS Mock Trial Team
Posted on 02/08/2017
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From the story by Shelly Conlon at the Waco Tribune Herald:

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Former Baylor president Starr to assist with Waco High mock trial classes

 

By SHELLY CONLON sconlon@wacotrib.com

Ken Starr, the former Baylor University president and chancellor, and nationally recognized law expert, is headed back to court — but this time it’s to help Waco Independent School District students find mock trial success.

After severing his last ties with the university in mid-August, Starr will volunteer his time and experience to assist with Waco High School’s two mock trial classes starting in October, he said. He met with Superintendent Bonny Cain, who he calls a dear friend, and asked if there was any way he could help within the district.

Cain offered the idea of helping with the mock trial team, then met shortly before school started with Starr, the Waco High principal and the mock trial instructor to set the plan in motion, he said.

Mock trial allows students to go through an imitation trial process, argue different sides of a case and learn about the law and the power of persuasion.

“We’ve had a long list of intelligent volunteers helping the Waco High School mock trial team, but until now not one this well known who was solicitor general and has argued cases before the Supreme Court,” Cain said in an email. “We are confident he will help us continue our long tradition of success with that program.”

Some of the mock trial team’s most recent success includes a trip to the state competition in 2014, and having a student named as the Region 12 Mock Trial Best Overall Advocate in 2015.

Starr, who is a former federal judge, U.S. solicitor general and the independent counsel who headed the investigation that led to former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives, will likely start assisting the team toward the end of October, after the team has been given the mock trial case to tackle for this year’s competition, he said.

Starr started as Baylor’s president in 2010, and had the chancellor title added in 2013. He also remained at Baylor as a law professor after he was fired from his role as president in May and resigned as chancellor a few days later, following an investigation into how the university handled sexual assault allegations.

“I’ve worked with moot court programs and the like, and I have long volunteered at high schools, but I haven’t during my tenure at Baylor,” Starr said. “I’m looking forward to being a resource and putting in my humble 2 cents, obviously having more light to shed, I hope, with respect to the law. I know the moot court teacher is fabulously experienced, so they’ve enjoyed great success. I will simply be supporting, reinforcing and augmenting a very strong program.”

He taught seminars at Baylor Law School focused on constitutional issues, and though Starr said he’s unsure what this year’s competition case will be, he said he thinks it’ll be about a search-and-seizure Fourth Amendment case. Until then, he will help students understand background and operations, he said, adding that he will be able to bring insights to the legal concepts students will learn.

‘Very dear to me’

“The world of constitutional law is very dear to me, and I probably know just enough to be somewhat dangerous. But I’ve argued such cases, I’ve adjudicated such cases as a judge and follow the Supreme Court quite closely . . . so hopefully I can help more on the legal side of the problem,” Starr said.

The students he helps may not become lawyers, but much of life is about advocacy and performance, Starr said. Mock trial is substantive and intellectually challenging, and teaches students a set of skills that are transferable across many walks of life, he said. Starr added he is thrilled to have the opportunity to help students at the high school level become effective and persuasive human beings, he said.

“What an opportunity this will be for our students at Waco High, to learn from such a great legal mind as Ken Starr,” Waco High Principal Ed Love said. “We’re so thankful he has agreed to share his wisdom and expertise with our kids and our staff.”

Waco ISD would like to thank Ms. Conlon and the Waco Tribune Herald for covering this important story.