A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new mock courtroom will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, in the Criminal Justice Building at Missouri Southern State University.
The courtroom, which was completed earlier this fall, has all of the features one would expect to find in a judicial setting. There is a judge’s bench, witness and jury boxes, tables for the prosecution and defense, and a gallery for visitors to watch the proceedings.
“The idea came out of a conversation between several faculty members who were looking at ways to create more immersive environments for our students,” said Dr. Tim Wilson, chair of the Criminal Justice Department. “We decided to try to find space in Criminal Justice to make a courtroom that could be used by multiple disciplines.
“We were able to secure some funding for the project and worked on it over the summer. We wanted to make it as close to an actual courtroom as possible, and repurposed some of the furniture from Joplin’s old juvenile office on Pearl Ave.”
The new courtroom is fully functional, with video screens, TV monitors and audio capability.
“It has everything you’d expect for any courtroom setting, whether it be a criminal or civil case,” he said.
Wilson anticipates that the courtroom will be utilized by a variety of students from across campus.
“We’ve reached out to other programs with offers to use it,” he said. “The Social Work Department can use it for courses where they teach advocacy; and the Law Enforcement Academy can use it when talking about giving courtroom testimony.”
One group that is already utilizing the new courtroom is the university’s Mock Trial team.
Dr. Nicholas Nicoletti, who serves as co-adviser and assistant coach for the team, said having access to the courtroom gives students a significant advantage.
“They get to have weekly practices within a realistic environment that amplifies the academic and practical experience,” he said. “MSSU often hosts a regional Mock Trial tournament and we are excited to invite schools from all over the region to compete in our new courtroom.”