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Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor presides over mock trial

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United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor made a special appearance Friday for the annual Thurgood Marshall Junior Mock Trial Program.

The program involves more than 1,000 students competing on behalf of 31 schools from the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Westchester County. The students take on roles as prosecutors, defense attorneys, witnesses and the jury.

"I've learned a lot," says MS 180 student Andrew Garcia, playing as a defendant. "Teaching me how to be a lawyer and how it feels to be actually in a courthouse and get to know everything." 

Four school finalists from seventh- and eighth-grade get to work on a mock criminal justice case. They have the opportunity to question witnesses, develop alibis and give a closing statement to the jury in front of real Bronx judges.

"The more you learn about the things you don't know about, the bigger your dreams will become," says Sotomayor.

Teachers say the competition is a great introduction for many students to the judicial system.

"What surprises me is just how much they are able to perform. it's almost like they are in a law and order episode," says teacher Tom Dassau.

Organizers say they hope this program will keep inspiring students to build confidence and pursue their dreams.

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