On December 17, 2019, Houghton College Assistant Professor of Business Management and Law, Joseph Miller, conducted the first-ever mock trial for students in the Criminal Justice and Pre-Law programs at Houghton College. The mock trial was a part of the final grade for students in Miller’s Introduction to Criminal Justice/Civil Law and Society hybrid class and included five cases.
Early in the Fall semester, Miller divided his class into groups, and handed out the mock trial scripts. “I placed them together and then it was up to them to decide who in their group would be a witness and who in their group would be an attorney,” offered Miller. “They each had about 12 weeks to work on it.” Miller compiled the fictional cases from several state bar associations including Georgia, Colorado and New Hampshire.
While Miller presided over each mock trial as judge, he occasionally switched back into teacher mode to direct the groups when they struggled. “Working with the students to prepare for the trial was a lot of fun,” adds Miller. “Of course, I take into consideration that they are undergraduate students – many of whom probably have no intention of being lawyers or going to law school.”
Miller, who currently practices law in Cuba at the Law Office of Joseph P. Miller, began teaching at Houghton College as an adjunct professor in 2017, and became full-time in January of 2019. His real-life connections continue to be an asset to Houghton’s new Criminal Justice program, as he brings in field professionals to speak to his students. “We had an FBI agent from the Buffalo Field Office come in and talk to my class this semester,” continues Miller. “But then on the other side of it, we had the CEO of Saving Grace Ministries, Reverend Terry King, speak to the class. He works with parolees that are being reintegrated back into society after being incarcerated.” Houghton alum and Allegany County Assistant District Attorney, Tom Fuoco, was also a guest in Miller’s class. “He came in to share his experience as a public defender and a prosecutor.”
Miller sees the Criminal Justice program expanding at Houghton in large part because of all of the support that has been coming in from local law enforcement and other agencies. “I think as we are able to offer more specialized courses, we’ll be able to have different people come in and speak with our students. I truly enjoy teaching at Houghton,” states Miller. “I love being here.”