Leigh’s Mock Trial Team

Dhruthi Mahesh

Have you ever wondered what happens in a courtroom trial? Mock Trial is a club that simulates a court in session where students are given a criminal case and asked to argue their assigned position in front of a judge against another school. Members of mock trial meet with attorney coaches, and are responsible for committing their time to attend practices, practice competitions, as well as the final competition. 

There are 3 main positions: pretrial attorneys, trial attorneys, and witnesses. The Pretrial motion usually takes place before the trial, and there are generally two pretrial attorneys. It is used to settle facts between the judge and is used to come to a conclusion on which pieces of evidence can be used in the trial. Pretrial attorneys come up with a memorized argument, which usually involves the constitutionality of certain acts and then proceed to present that argument in front of the judge. Attorneys must be able to think on their feet, defend their argument, and provide valid responses to judges when questioned. After the pretrial motion, the trial commences. 

A group of three trial attorneys begins by giving the opening statement, and then proceed to question the witnesses on their locations and their relation to the case. The last main role is the role of a witness. In mock trials, witnesses portray a character through acting that was interconnected to the case at hand. Witnesses must memorize their statement prior to the competition or know it well enough to be able to answer questions asked by trial attorneys. Some mock trial teams choose to recruit understudies for every role. Understudies study the case and work with the other members of the team, and are responsible for being able to take the position of a team member when required. Each competing member will receive scores on how well they present their arguments as well as general skills such as the ability to think on their feet, their ability to provide valid responses when questioned, as well as their public speaking and critical thinking skills. 

There are also the positions of a bailiff and clerk. These positions cannot be auditioned for; a person who is a part of the mock trial team, and who is not competing will most likely be assigned this position. The bailiff keeps order in the court, swears in witnesses, and hands the rulebook to the judge at the beginning of the trial. The clerk is responsible for timing the trial and alerts attorneys of how much time they have remaining to present their arguments. These two positions do not contribute to the actual competition, however, they will receive scores on how well they execute their role. 

Additionally, members of the mock trial also attend scrimmages (practice competitions) with other schools to practice arguing against other teams, and to perfect their arguments. This is also beneficial to new members to simulate the courtroom etiquettes and practices. 

In conclusion, Mock Trial is a club that learns about constitutionality and law, and is asked to participate in a fun competition which enables members to expand their knowledge on law, and helps improve important life skills such as public speaking, and critical thinking. Although it can be a big time commitment, it can be incredibly fun at the same time.

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