From September to February, the school’s Mock Trial club has been busy participating in various competitions in an attempt to gain a deeper understanding of court cases and to learn about the various roles within the judicial system.
This year, Mock Trial has competed in four official competition days. The defense team faced Lynbrook and Lincoln’s prosecution teams, beating Lincoln, while the prosecution team faced Saratoga and Prospect High School’s defense teams, beating Saratoga. Though the club is one cohesive unit, within the club itself there are two separate teams, the defense and the prosecution, which compete independently.
The entire team’s season began in September when Mock Trial received a “case packet” with information about this year’s case, which is called People v. Concha and focuses on the trial of a high school student (Rae Concha) who has been charged with possession for sale of a controlled substance, Adderall, as well as manslaughter for selling Adderall to a student who he knew had a heart condition.
“[As the prosecution], we argued that Rae was the one with access to Adderall, that he/she had a prescription, that it was in Rae’s car that bags of 5 pills each were found along with a list of names and money,” junior Annie Gaffney said.
The defense team’s strategy was focused on casting reasonable doubt by finding holes in the prosecution’s argument. Both the defense and the prosecution used planned strategies to get the verdict to be in their favor. However, determining which side wins during a Mock Trial Competition is much more complicated than simply declaring a side guilty or not guilty.
“The ruling [itself] actually doesn’t count for anything, because during every trial you are scored by a ‘jury’ of 3-4 real-life attorneys,” Anneliese said. “They score each person on a scale of 1-5, and then at the end, they add up all the scores for each team, and the team with the most points wins.”
Regardless of whether the team wins or loses, members have found Mock Trial to be a rewarding experience that gives them the confidence and the ability to think on their feet.
“For me, the highlight of competitions this year has been delivering the closing arguments for defense,” Anneliese said. “Defense always gets the last word, and you only have one minute to rebut [the prosecution’s arguments]. Closing has been so much fun for me because I have to think on my feet and choose my words carefully, because everything I say has a lot of impact.”
In the future, the team hopes to expand the number of members and continue to advance their understanding of the judicial process.
“This season has been great, and we’ve come much closer to making the quarterfinals than we have in previous years,” Mock Trial President senior Cole Limbach said. “I am hopeful that we will continue to build on this success in later years.”