Trial team takes on tough tasks

Lizzie Catrambome, Reporter

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For students who love murder mysteries and have dreams of becoming a lawyer or a judge, the Mock Trial team is the perfect place for them.  Run by Mr. Auth, Mock Trial is a competition between schools where students can “work on being either lawyers, the prosecution or defense, or a witness for the prosecution or defense.”  Students have the opportunity to compete in actual courtrooms, such as ones in the town of Bel Air, and they are scored on how well they present and argue the case.
Although this may seem like all fun and games, the members of Mock Trial spend hours rehearsing and practicing their case.  The members receive a booklet with witness testimonies and then they spend months rehearsing the trial.  One member, Heather King, says, “We read that (the booklet) and have meetings and set up our notes and things like that and we work with the witnesses so that they know their story.”  The team must have everything flawless for when they go to trial.  They even pull in actual lawyers, who help the members practice and perfect their testimonies before going to the actual competition.
Not only do members get to work with actual lawyers, but they also can work on a series of different cases.  King says that “it’s either a civil  or a criminal case,” but within those two categories they can have a trial on almost anything.
Last year, the team put a superintendent on trial for the neglecting the schools water systems, and kids were getting sick from the water.  These trials not only provide a way to meet new people and have fun, but they also provide a learning experience.
All of the trials follow standard courtroom procedure, so members who want to be a lawyer or judge can learn what that entails.  King also says that it “helps people in mock trial gain confidence.”  Working in tough environments like this in a more relaxed setting can help prepare the members for what their future occupation may bring, according to King.
Though Mock Trial was lost years back, it is now thriving.  For some unknown reason, Mock Trial was shut down a while ago, and was only revived last year.  That being said, Mr. Auth says  that “We were pretty solid for our first year, we actually won the playoffs.”  The Mock Trial team last year was short some people, and the team was disqualified from the playoffs because of this shortage.  However, the members do seem confident that they will do well again this year, with the returning people who helped the team “win” last year, and with their new recruits.

Mr. Auth – “Mock trial is a competition between schools.  You are presented with a case, and you work on being either lawyers, either the prosecution or defence, or a witness for the prosecution or defence.  It is a role-playing competition and at the same time you are expected to follow the rules of law and the rules of evidence.  The kids are trained by actual lawyers who come to the school and work with us.  We hold the trials in courtroom, like down in Bel Air and they’re scored, it’s competitive.  (How long has this been going on?)  I don’t know, we had a mock trial team and then it went away, and then we revived it last year, so this will be our second year after reviving it, but I don’t know how long it’s been around.  (How well do you think you’re going to do this year?)  Um, we have a few returning people who had success last year, so… we were pretty solid for our first year, we actually won the playoffs but we were disqualified because we didn’t have enough people, but we still won by score but had to lose by disqualification so we did pretty good for our first year I thought.”

Heather King – “What we do is we get a booklet that has all the different witness testimonies and different resources we’re allowed to use in the trial within it, and over a couple months we read that and have meetings and set up our notes and things like that and we work with the witnesses so that they know their story and stuff like that, and we do that for a while.  When we present we follow courtroom procedure and that helps people in mock trial gain confidence and career preparation skills, things like that.  (what type of trials do you do?)  It’s either a civil  or a criminal case.  Like last year we put a superintendent on trial over how he neglected to maintain schools, like the water in schools, that kids were getting sick from it.”

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Trial team takes on tough tasks