Club Profile: Mock Trial
by Christina Nguyen
The court room is chilly. The atmosphere tense with anticipation as the judge announces the verdict. And it all boils down to this verdict, the hours of courtroom deliberation. There were passionate opening statements about this year’s case—a tragic airplane crash—and emotional testimony from the witnesses. The lawyers objected and cross-examined like skilled marksmen. And when both sides closed their arguments, we wait with baited breath for the verdict.
The verdict doesn’t matter; it’s what happens when the judge isn’t watching.
We are coached by Mr. Wiggin and split into smaller teams focused on one aspect of the case. A team is made up of a lead lawyer, witness, and their interns as they learn the ropes. The small groups are responsible for working on both direct—where the witness can tell their testimony—and cross—where the lawyer picks apart that testimony—examinations. We bring it all together for the court case.
The Co-President Kevin Wu explains Mock Trial, “You have two teams – prosecution and defense – competing against each other in a match similar to what you can expect in a courtroom trial today. Each team brings their own three lawyers and three witnesses to build their case. Each lawyer is assigned a particular witness and is tasked, with that witness, to demonstrate to the judge their side of the case. Teams also bring along three additional lawyers to cross-examine the opposing team’s witnesses to weaken the other side’s argument. Ergo, there is a total of 12 lawyers and 6 witnesses with equal numbers to both teams in any given match.
“The judge awards points based on his evaluation on how well each team did in their direct and cross examinations, as well as opening and closing statements.
“The team with the most points wins.”
But, that’s only the technical aspect of Mock Trial. As a lawyer and Co-President, I know we spend just as much time refining our direct and cross examinations as much as we practice delivering them. Every year we start off as strangers, in my first year I was intimidated by the tightknit group of senior lawyers but by the end of it like in The Breakfast Club the team was a family—as cheesy as it sounds, it’s true.
Nicky Eleuteri, a witness: “This was my first year as a witness on Mock Trial. I didn’t know what to expect and went with Wiggin’s assignment of me as Bryce Henderson, physics professor. Over time, I really got into the role and even wore suspenders as an homage to my alter ‘nerdiness’. I was incredibly nervous during the first trial, but I relaxed thanks to my lawyers and friends. I highly recommend Mock Trial to anyone interested in law or in trying new things.”
Macy Kwan, a lawyer: “Overall, mock trial was a huge success. I truly enjoyed being in this group. Working with different people and sharing different ideas, had changed me as a person. I’ve regained my confidence of public speaking. Mr. Wiggin first assigned me as an intern lawyer. However as snow days piled upon us, he promoted me to be a lawyer and to go up and present my case.
“And what could I say? It was truly an adventure starting from the beginning on the ‘journey’. I’ve never imagined myself standing in court and presenting my case in front of people who I don’t know. With all the support from everyone else, I’ve learned to step up in life and face my fears.
“Overall, through the wins and losses, the ups and the downs, the good and bad weather. We’ve still accomplished so much as a team! Being part of mock trial has made me realized the true happiness of sharing your ideas, and sharing your love together as a group. It’s honestly quite sad that this season ended so fast. Like always, it’s been a pleasure working with everyone this year. It’s now that moment where everything is slowly dying down, and there’s really nothing to look forward to. But either way, mock trial ended successfully. And as I always say ‘WE ARE BHS MOCK TRIAL UNITE TEAM., WE LOSE AS A TEAM, WE WIN AS A TEAM, AND WE FIGHT AS A TEAM!’”
Kevin Wu, a lead lawyer: “Mock Trial was one of my favorite clubs in high schools. Though I do not aspire to be a lawyer, I learned much about – and used – legal processing, the law, and debating in a fun way. At the same time, I met some truly interesting and inspirational individuals who accompanied me while we weaved through the minute details and technicalities of each case. Clearly, these skills, though they do not directly pertain to my career path, will benefit me in my lifetime.”
I will close with my own words: Mock Trial has been one of the best experiences in my life. This year was awesome, our season was great, and our team was the best. I learned and did things I never thought I would be doing today. When I first started the legal jargon and court room decorum was intimidating, but now I know it like the back of my hand. Honestly, if you asked me what I would be doing in Mock Trial when I started I wouldn’t have said co-president, lead lawyer, or opening statement speaker. While, I won’t be perusing a career as a lawyer what I learned will be a boon to me.