He sits at the edge of his seat, waiting for his opposing counsel to slip up. When the moment is right, he shoots up and yells “objection!” His co-counsel quickly writes her closing statement as he argues with the opposing counsel. The judge rules “sustained” and the opposing counsel rests their case. The judge leaves the courtroom to make her verdict. And the verdict is…. guilty. The team walks out of the Austin state capital as winners.
“We were in these real courtrooms, and it was so cool to be really immersed in that situation and feel the real of it,” team lawyer, Parker Sutliff said.
On Jan. 30, the mock trial team traveled to Austin for their YMCA youth and government competition. Team Sutliff/Quintana placed second place in state and qualified for nationals in Chicago in July. They competed against the best teams from Texas, winning four out of their six rounds. The team is made up of two lawyers, Parker Sutliff and Alexandria Quintanna, and five witnesses, Aiden Trujillo-Rainer, Khyra White, Amberlyn Barrera, Erik Mixon, and Jessie Eagan.
“When we first heard our names called at the conference, we just couldn’t believe it,” Sutliff said.
Last year, the mock trial had placed 16th at regionals, but this year they placed fifth placing into the top ten which qualified them for state and also qualified them for the district court. District court was made up of all of the top teams from all over Texas. The team received a fictional legal case in early fall and analyzed and memorized their roles and speeches for their competition in November. This year the case, ‘A Minor Collision’, included a minor DUI and failure to yield charges that were needed to prove or disprove.
“I’m just so proud of everyone and the progress we’ve made together, growing together, learning together, and just improving so much over the course of this year,” Sutliff said.
Nationals is made up of almost 100 teams across the country. The team will receive a brand new case for nationals in Chicago this summer and will compete at the John Marshall Law School, the Chicago bar, and the Federal Courthouse.
“I realized how much [mock trial] means to me and my team,” Sutliff said. “All of us put the work in and seeing the progress we made just reminded me how much it means to me and how successful we can be together.”