The Mock Trial Season Comes to a Close

The Mock Trial Season Comes to a Close

Katharyn MacDonald, Contributor

Imagine stepping into a real court room and feeling the presence of its history, knowing that hundreds of real cases have unfolded in that room, and feeling the sense of more stories to come. The twelve members of the 2022-2023 CHS Mock Trial Team took those steps into the court room with pride. Through the club, they’ve gained the knowledge and skills to compete in a debate resembling a criminal trial. 

The Mock Trial Team is split into two sides: the Defense Team and the Prosecution Team. During competitions, the defense team faces the prosecution team of another school and vice versa. In order to imitate a real trial, the students take on the role of an attorney or a witness. 

The attorneys must prepare questions to ask their own witnesses and a witness on the opposing side. 

“There are two attorneys on each side that need to prepare and deliver the opening and closing statements to the court,” said Mock Trial sponsor Mrs. Amy Hysan. “They are also responsible for raising objections to questions that may violate rules of questioning.” 

The job of the witnesses employs a different set of skills. 

“Essentially, a witness plays a role and becomes that character for the trial,” said Mrs. Hysan. “They will face a cross-examination from the opposite team where they will not know ahead of time the questions they will be asked, so they need to be prepared for anything.” 

Witnesses are given an affidavit, or a written statement used for evidence in court, that they must study closely. 

“Having our lines and affidavits memorized is the key to showing that we understand both the case and the process of law,” said senior and new member Michael Rivera, Attorney 3 of the Prosecution Team. 

Both the attorneys and witnesses must do this ahead of time to prepare. They also have to be ready to think on their feet in the courtroom, reacting and responding to the opposing team’s actions. 

The memorization and improvisation skills practiced are valuable assets for the competitions, and they can also be useful in many career paths. Some Mock Trial members are in the criminal justice pathway, while others are interested in various fields. 

Senior and four-year member Alyssa Reid, Witness 3 of the Prosecution Team, said, “I think that the argumentative aspect will help me in my future endeavors.  Mock Trial is really great for defending a case and learning how to use and manipulate evidence.” 

“I’ve wanted to be in the law field for years now. I can definitely say Mock Trial has built up my confidence and helped me choose my decision,” said senior and 4-year member Linessa Brown. 

Brown leads the Defense Team as Team Captain, and Annamarie Embrey, a senior and two-year member, is the Prosecution Team Captain. 

“Being a team captain entails making sure everyone is prepared, helping other team members, and being quick on your feet when making decisions that have the best interests for the team,” said Brown about her position. 

Mock Trial is made up of individual attorneys and witnesses who work together to make a unified, interdependent team. 

“Cooperation is an essential skill, not only to succeed in Mock Trial, but to succeed in life,” said Rivera. “It takes everyone’s strength to pull the weight of an otherwise arduous task.” 

“I think the biggest challenges the team faces are working as a group and time commitment,” said Mrs. Hysan. “If one member of the team does not pull their weight, it falls on the shoulders of others.” 

“Something that I learned through Mock Trial is dedication and being committed,” said senior and four-year member Jie Smith, Witness 1 (defendant) of the Defense Team. “It is important that you hold yourself accountable in getting your character together, regardless of if you are a lawyer or witness, before we go off to competition.” 

This year’s Mock Trial team had seven new members, which made up over half of the team. 

“They are a great group, and it was so much fun to have the new members this year,” said Mrs. Hysan. 

Freshman Brooke Kidwell, Witness 2 of the Prosecution Team, said, “I thought it would just be like debate club. I was surprised… we went to an actual court room. I was really scared at first, but after the first competition I felt like I knew my role.” 

The first-year members said that they’ve learned to have more self-confidence through their participation in Mock Trial. 

Sophomore and first-year member Allison Hopfinger, Witness 1 of the Prosecution Team, said, “When you go to sit back down once presenting your argument or doing a perfect witness statement, there is no better feeling. Leading up it is very stressful, especially for the witnesses since we have to memorize everything, but in the long run it was a lot of fun.” 

“It is a very good club for public speaking… how to become a strong communicator and interact with people from different positions,” said Smith. 

The team still has plenty of fun while learning these important life skills. 

“It’s really fun!  Picking evidence and playing a witness or a lawyer is great and intriguing,” said Reid. “I learned so much about trials in real life.” 

The Mock Trial Team’s competition season ran throughout the month of January and the first week of February. Through the round-robin competition rounds with elimination after the loss of a single round, Calvert High competed in Circuit 7, but did not make it to the Top 8. 

“My favorite part of being in Mock Trial is when we’re at the competitions.  The other teams are always very nice and welcoming even though it may not seem like it during the competition,” said Hopfinger. 

Though the competition season may have ended, a possible staff vs. student match is in the works of being put together for one last event. 

Sponsor Mrs. Hysan teaches American Government classes at CHS, and she said her experience coaching this team is much different than her regular classroom environment. The students who participate in Mock Trial choose to be there and demonstrate greater interest. 

“Coaching this team allows me to go in depth with a more specific aspect of government,” she said. “My favorite part is working closely with this small group of kids and watching them perform.  It’s so great to watch their hard work be demonstrated!”