Mock trial prepares for upcoming competition

Troy Pierson, Business Manager

The mock trial team returns for a new season for the 2017-2018 school year with hopes of advancing past the district competition to new challenges.

Mock trial provides students an opportunity to exercise the process of the judicial system through a series of competitions, where schools compete against one another as a prosecution and a defense. Ellen Friery, head adviser, briefly explained the curricular.

“There are 611 public school districts in Ohio and close to 400 are participating in [mock trial]. . . . It works on speaking skills, language, social studies, and it gives students a better understanding and practical application of government action, especially the judicial system,” Friery said.

Students begin preparation for competition in September by receiving large amounts of information about the new topic the Ohio Center for Law Related Education (OCLRE) releases to mock trial teams. Friery elaborated on the provided information for the case.

“[OCLRE] has attorneys and law students who write a case that’s a current topic of interest. [It] usually has something to do with an amendment and a civil liberty. This year’s case is very interesting. It’s a hearing [concerning the] sixth Amendment [about] the right to an attorney. This [case] was [about] an eighteen-year-old high school student who was convicted of murdering his girlfriend. He was appointed an attorney who made mistakes during the trial. This year, the hearing is to decide whether those mistakes made a significant difference in the outcome of the trial,” Friery said.

From September to the district competition in January, students practice analyzing the case, understanding the role of their characters, and coming up with questions to support their arguments and refute the opposition. Junior Macy Keaton voiced her criticisms about the new case.

“I think we’ve had better cases in the past. This [case is] really difficult to argue because we keep getting bogged down . . . [with] whether or not he murdered his ex-girlfriend, which . . . doesn’t actually matter at all in our case. . . . I’m not a huge fan of it this year. [The OCLRE] always tries and throw things in with the different witness statements that help each team and hurt each team, but this year there’s a lot of things that hurt each team,” she said.

Keaton additionally commented on the difference between a hearing and a court case this season.

“I think there will probably be less debate, not necessarily because it’s a hearing, just because I think each team will be a little shaky on exactly what we’re trying to prove. . . . That’s what our attorneys are really trying to help us with right now, [sorting] through the information that we have and determining what isn’t necessary to bring up in court. . . . I think that each team will be . . . on shaky ground, but hopefully by competition our team will be ready to go [and] ready to beat all of the other teams,” Keaton said.

For the current season, the mock trial team divided their group into two teams, one team comprised of juniors and seniors, and the other team comprised of sophomores and freshmen. Sophomore witness Lauren Skidmore expressed her excitement for the season.

“[The freshmen this year are] really confident in what they do and they know the case really well. We have some experience, so I think [the year will] be good,” Skidmore said.

The mock trial team competes in the district tournament on January 26.