Yeshivat Noam students have their day in court
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Yeshivat Noam students have their day in court

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Fifth-graders at Yeshivat Noam took second place at a state law fair competition.

Budding lawyers at Paramus’ Yeshivat Noam came in second in last month’s New Jersey Law Fair Competition. The 27 fifth-graders fielded one of more than 120 cases presented by elementary school children from all over New Jersey.

The contest – designed to introduce students to the workings of the legal system – was sponsored and judged by members of the New Jersey State Bar Foundation.

According to a school spokesman, “The purpose of the competition is to give students an understanding of the law and of how our system works. Each team creates a case, which is then presented to a ‘jury.'”

The Yeshivat Noam students were prepared by teacher Margi Saks, who called the project “a wonderful example of team unity,” involving “the sharing of ideas [and] choosing ideas in a democratic fashion – skills that we impart to our students on a daily basis.”

To prepare for the event, Saks read the students cases from past law fairs and asked each student to develop his own case. Subsequently, the entire class chose one case to develop for the competition.

Fifth-grader Avi Bodoff said afterwards, “It was really exciting that my idea was chosen by the class for the competition [and] it was both interesting and fun to write the case and work together as a class.” Pointing out that his father is a lawyer, he said he hopes to become one as well.

The prize-winning civil case was built around the following question: “If you saw a child on an unstable roof, would you climb up to save him? And if you did and got hurt, who would be liable?”

A statement from the school explained that the case incorporated laws concerning both trespassing and the “emergency doctrine.” In the students’ scenario, a 7-year-old boy, whose family was unable to afford a swing set, spent his afternoons climbing his roof, watching the sunset. While the unstable roof (the family could not afford repairs) could hold the boy, it could not support someone larger. A new neighbor – thinking the boy was in an emergency situation – climbed onto the roof, creating a hole through which both he and the boy fell. The neighbor sustained injuries.

“So who is at fault?” asked the fifth-graders, “the child for being on an unstable roof or the man who tried unsuccessfully to save him?”

For more information about Yeshivat Noam, call (201) 261-1919.

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