Daman Cantrell District Judge

OBA Mock Trial Program

The Oklahoma Bar Foundation and the Young Lawyers Division of the OBA for 31 years has supported the High School Mock Trial competitions. This program teaches high school students the basics of trial practice and engages them in a statewide competition.

2010 Lakeside Home mock trial team and coaches at TCBA Law Day luncheon.

In 2002, along with public defender and now State Mock Trial Committee member Marsha Rogers, Judge Cantrell during his days as a juvenile court judge began to enter and coach Lakeside Home in the competition. The team is made up of children that have been placed in a residential treatment group home for wards of the Tulsa County Juvenile Court system.

2009 Lakeside Home team. Top 15 finisher in State.

At first expectations were low for the team, who were competing against some of the top schools in the State. Many of the Lakeside children had severe academic problems on top of their difficulties with home life and other problems. Many could not read. But starting in the second year, the team has made the second round of the competition almost every year and finished in the top quarter of all teams entered.

OBA Mock Trial Coordinator Judy Spencer with 2008 Lakeside Home team, who finished 24th in State.

OBA Mock Trial Coordinator Judy Spencer said this about the program: "The OBA/OBF High School Mock Trial Program was undoubtedly the most effective educational experience that I could offer students during my 32 years of teaching. The benefits of this program appeal to all academic skill levels and learning styles. Indeed, it is a life line for many young people who are bored or disinterested in traditional academic activities, and they are amazed at their level of achievement. As a teacher coach for 10 years, I observed more intellectual and social growth in those who participated than in any other activity."

Nowhere is this growth more evident than in the Lakeside students, who learn that they don’t have to be defined by the mistakes that they had made in the past, and that their future had yet to be written.

Montage of pictures from the 2007 Lakeside Home team who finished 9th in State.

With the active involvement of numerous Tulsa County attorneys, more than a competition, the program has most of all become a mentoring program, linking the children with positive role models, and teaching them ways to change patterns of mistakes that led to them being placed in the juvenile system. The students learn that while they may have challenges in their lives, they can overcome them with hard work and working together as a team.

2006 Lakeside Home team, finished in top 20 teams in State.

Most powerfully, the students at Lakeside Home now give back to the community by speaking at Thoreau Demonstration Academy and other local schools during Law Week about the mistakes that they have made that placed them into the juvenile system, and how they hope to change their lives in the future. The team’s motto is a quote from Booker T. Washington, "I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed."

Read Tulsa World article on Lakeside Home mock-trial.

In addition to Lakeside Home, Judge Cantrell coaches his daughters' Owasso High School mock trial teams and enjoys judging the Final Round of the OBA State Competition. He sponsors a statewide "practice day" and opens Tulsa County courtrooms for teams in preparation for the event. This past year he has traveled with the Oklahoma State champions to the National Mock Trial Championship event in Philadelphia, Pa. to help coach the Oklahoma team and to judge in the competition.

Judge Cantrell with fellow panelists at 2010 State Championship round.

Judge Cantrell is a huge supporter of the program because of the opportunities for the young people involved, teaching advocacy skills, respect for the legal system, and providing self-confidence and life skills that will serve the students throughout their lives.

2010 Owasso High School mock trial team wins 6th place in state competition.

"I truly believe the high school mock trial program is one of the best, if not the best, things the Oklahoma Bar Association Foundation does," said a lawyer involved with the program, a sentiment with which Judge Cantrell heartily agrees. The judge has been involved with the program since 1988.

2009 Owasso High School mock trial team.

Also read They Weren't Supposed To Win, Tulsa Business Journal - March 2007

  • They Said It Couldn't Be Done, Tulsa Business Journal - March 2007
  • Mistrust seen in suspicious eyes, Owasso Reporter - December 13, 2007
  • To learn more about the Oklahoma Bar Association Mock Trial program, including watching an online six minute video, see: Oklahoma Bar Association Mock Trial program.

    To volunteer as a coach or start a program at a high school, contact: OBA/YLD Mock Trial Coordinator,
Judy Spencer
3812 Spyglass Road
Oklahoma City, OK 73120
Fax: (405) 755-1466 
Phone: (405) 755-1066
email: mocktrial@okbar.org

    For any additional help or assistance,
    please contact us at:

    (918) 596-5390
    Fax: (918) 596-5402
    500 South Denver Avenue,
    Tulsa, Oklahoma 74103-3832

    Minute Clerk
    Melissa Norris 596-5392

    Law Clerk/Bailiff
    David Williams, J.D.

    Court Reporter
    Kim White

    Tulsa District Court's website
    Judge Cantrell's docket (Civil Division)