If you haven’t heard of the Mock Trial club well, it’s pretty much what it sounds like. You’re given a made-up case at the beginning of the year and you work as a team to come up with lines of reasoning to assemble a case for both prosecution and defense. The team this year was composed of Juniors Katie Caviness, Serena DiDio, Milos Buchberger, Royce Ankel, Julia Gurando, Alicia Jaworska, and myself (Claire Silverstein). It also included sophomores Jyotil Rai and Oona Boyle in addition to freshman Alex Chatterjee. There are ten speaking roles- meaning you actively present at the competition. There are two lawyers and four witnesses per side, but there are also jurors who don’t have a speaking role in the trial but will scout out other teams and determine the jury verdict for other teams on competition day. The club is run by Mr. Agree and Mr. Meguerian as an attorney advisor- meetings begin around the end of October and are held after school. There will be try-outs to determine what role you will have (witness, attorney, or juror), so be prepared to [do something]. Meetings consist of preparing direct and cross-examinations, practicing said examinations, and preparing opening and closing arguments, not to mention a good amount of pizza and random discussions.
Then, around the middle of January, there are the county Mock Trial competitions. These competitions are held in a real courthouse and the judges are real lawyers. For the first round, the prosecution will go on one day, with the defense going on another. Every other round, one side will be randomly selected to speak and the other side won’t go at all. When one of our sides goes, they’re competing against a random school’s team. A key tenet of Mock Trial membership is that you can never tell the other team what school you’re from- just to keep anonymity and therefore competition in full force. At these competitions, the full case is presented and you’re scored on a rubric by the judges. The jury is also listening intently to determine a verdict, and at the conclusion of the trial, they determine the outcome of the case by either finding the defendant guilty or not guilty. The judges, however, have the real power- as they determine who has the higher score and thus who moves on in the competition. In the first round teams that move on have the highest combined defense and prosecution score, but every subsequent round is simply which team in the courtroom has a higher score.
This year, CHS made it past the first round but lost in a very close competition during the quarterfinals. Regardless of the outcome, Mock Trial is a great and truly unique club- it gives you a glimpse of what being a real lawyer would look like. Most importantly, it teaches you how to develop an argument, think on your feet, and be a confident public speaker. These skills are critical no matter what field you end up pursuing. You’ll also develop some new friendships and walk away with lots of funny stories. Personally, my favorite part is wearing a suit to school competition days; there aren’t too many other opportunities to whip out the business look in high school. However, if all of that has failed to convince you to join Mock Trial, it is a tradition that after every competition we go to Cluck-U chicken in Morristown to eat fried chicken. If I’ve done a sufficient job convincing you that Mock Trial is the place to be, reach out to any team member, Mr. Agree, or Mr. Meguerian to find out more and get involved next year. Mock Trial, baby!