The Hon. James Horn of the Delaware Justice of the Peace Court and his wife Joan Horn were presented with the Justice Gene Franchini Golden Gavel Award May 17 at the National High School Mock Trial Championship in Athens, Ga.
The award honors individuals who have demonstrated exemplary dedication and commitment to the goals and ideals of the National High School Mock Trial program.
Judge Horn and Joan Horn have been associated with the Delaware High School Mock Trial program since 2006, and with the National High School Mock Trial program since 2008.
Judge Horn has acted as a scoring judge, evaluating the student participants in the competition, and as a presiding judge, where he oversees the mock trial proceedings just as a judge would do in a real trial.
Joan Horn has volunteered at competitions as a bailiff and a runner in mock trial proceedings where her husband was presiding, taking scoring sheets from the courtroom to the scoring room, earning the couple the nickname “Team Horn.”
Judge Horn said he enjoys working on mock trials, not only to inspire and mentor the next generation of legal professionals, but also because it helps him as a judge by keeping him sharp on courtroom procedures and the rules of evidence. He said he also remains impressed, year after year, with the high school competitors.
In 2017, ‘Team Horn’ was honored in Delaware with the Francis “Pete” Jones Award, given by the Delaware Law Related Education Center, for their dedication to the Delaware Mock Trial program.
This year they were nominated by Pete Jones himself, who brought the Mock Trial program to Delaware in 2008, for the national Golden Gavel Award. In his nomination letter, Jones wrote that Judge Horn began volunteering more than a decade ago. He said, “[Judge Horn] has been an integral part of the judging panels ever since.”
Jones also said the Horns have been an important part of growing and sustaining the mock trial program in Delaware by getting schools and attorneys in Sussex County to participate.