On Nov. 18, the Mock Trial Team competed in the YMCA Youth and Government Mock Trial competition. The YMCA provides the case which could be either criminal or civil and includes pieces of evidence, witness statements (or affidavit), and the specific laws that apply to the case. The team only had two weeks, but quickly managed to prepare arguments for both the prosecution and defense as well as train the witnesses. On the day of the competition the team competed in four rounds against other schools. They presented their cases for both the prosecution and the defense but only learned which side they would be representing minutes before court began.
The team consists of eight people, two attorneys and six witnesses. The witnesses spend time memorizing their assigned witness statements, so that they will be able to answer any questions given to them by the opposing side as if they were answering from their own memory. The attorneys work on questions for the witnesses and build up a case for both the prosecution and the defense. Attorneys attempt to prepare the witnesses for questions that they could be asked but they can never be fully prepared. When up on the stand, the witnesses can only answer questions based on what is in their witness statements, if the witnesses says anything that is made up or wrong they could be disqualified from the competition. Both attorneys presented opening and closing statements at the beginning and end of each round, as well as object and present evidence.
Each round goes exactly like a regular courtroom would, both sides try to win over the judge, and hope that he rules in their favor. In this competition though, it didn’t matter who won the case it really comes down to the performance and how well prepared the teams were.
Everyone on the team was new, and had little to no experience, so the first competition was a bit of a challenge. One of the two attorneys, Sunshine Haskins, shares the difficulties of competing, and taking on the role as a freshman.
“As an attorney, the most difficult thing for me was being confident in what I was saying even if it didn’t make sense and not being reserved, just going for it,” said Haskins, “I wasn’t confident about taking the role as a freshman at all and I felt very incompetent, but I practiced, studied, and prepared so much that I was somehow able to pull it off, and I would encourage future freshman not to be scared off by the role because of your age, because if you’re willing to put in the work and effort you’ll surprise yourself.”
At the end of the day the team had a great time at district and is looking forward to the state competition in Austin, TX. At state the team will present the same case from district on Jan. 25 through Jan. 28. Chloe Baker is on the debate team and competed as a witness at district but will be competing as an attorney at state. She expressed her feelings about playing both parts, and moving on to state.
“I feel like knowing my part as a witness really well can help me as an attorney, and I’m looking forward to seeing what our team can bring to state,” said Baker.