Once again, the Mock Trial team has undergone a nerve-wracking experience: the annual championship.
On Feb. 29 the team spent almost three hours in a courtroom, discussing a fake case about a college student who saw a security guard choking the student’s friend on the track team.
In the case that was simulated, the defendant swung a baseball bat in the guard’s direction, knocking him into a coma.
“Two weeks later, security guard Lee Valdez died of a brain aneurysm,” sophomore and Mock Trial member Macy Lites said. “So the question is, did the girl do what she did reasonably in defense of another, or intentionally to kill him?”
On county level, about 20 teams gathered at the Sacramento County Superior Courthouse to participate in four rounds from Feb. 11 to Feb. 29, which were followed by the Mock Trial playoffs. The main competitors for Rio’s team were the Kaleo Home School and the Sacramento Country Day School.
In the championship trial, Rio Americano lost to Elk Grove High School. The defendant was found guilty of homicide.
“My team has the heart and soul of champions, yet we must face the simple fact that the scoring in Mock Trial is always subjective and irrational by default, “ junior Lilyana Waldon said. “Losing the championship was heartbreaking, particularly because we are graduating two of our beloved seniors, but we took this loss gracefully and remained cordial in respect of our colleagues.”
All 10 members of the team received individual awards for their various roles in both the prosecution and defense, something that has never happened before.
Waldon said, “I got an award for being the “Top Witness” in various trials during the competition season.”
Depending on how important the trial is, two or as many as five judges can give away up to 10 points for pretrial and closing arguments and up to five points for technique and overall team performance.
The Mock Trial team prepares for competitions with attorney coach James Ralph Greiner, after school and sometimes on weekends. There is no set practice schedule.
“Witnesses practise direct and cross examinations, write out witness statements or work on character,” Lites said. “Attorneys will work on memorizing the evidence code, or practising objections the majority of the time.”
At the beginning of the school year Mock Trial members come to freshman English classes to help them consider their choice of joining the team.
“I joined my freshman year because my sister was in the program in 2012,” Lites said. “It’s a mixture of acting and law which was something I thought I would be interested in.”
Mock Trial involves a lot of stress as you need to do your best to earn a good score for your team, but for Lites the best part of the program is building friendships with nine other students.
“My career goals aren’t necessarily to become a lawyer,” Lites said, “but it gives me insight into the world of law and helps me consider if that’s something I’d really want to do.”