Mock trial Shabbat controversy resolved

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A mock trial competition will alter its schedule so a team from a Boston Jewish day school can participate without having to compete on Shabbat.

The National Mock Trial Championship made the decision after Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Doris Downs told event organizers that they could not use the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta unless the team from the Maimonides School was allowed to fully participate, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"We’re going to do our best to make sure the competition is fair to all," John Wheeler, chair of the mock trial organization’s board, told the newspaper.

The three-member team from the Maimonides School, which won the Massachusetts state championship, asked the Justice Department last week to intervene in the case after the mock trial organization refused its request to change the schedule.

Maimonides wanted all four of its rounds to be held Thursday and Friday before sundown because it could not compete between sundown Friday and nightfall Saturday. Tournament officials said such a change, which occurred four years ago at the request of a New Jersey Jewish day school, "unreasonably affected the conduct of the national tournament."

The new schedule will allow the Maimonides team to start the tournament Thursday afternoon. In addition, if Maimonides reaches the final, the start of the championship round would be delayed from 5 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

The schedule change comes after a member of the State Bar of Georgia, which sponsored the event, resigned in protest over the refusal to change the schedule. Elizabeth Price, chairwoman of the Anti-Defamation League’s Southeastern Regional Office, said she quit the board because it "was not dealing with the situation appropriately."

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