Mock Trial Allows Students To Grow Under the Pressure of Realistic Court Procedures
by Sarah Grace McElwain
Mock Trial is a competitive club that gives students the opportunity to act as participants in a court case to portray realistic court procedures. Students involved in Mock Trial can develop useful speaking and reasoning skills as well as further their knowledge of the law and court system and get an idea of what a legal career would entail.
“Mock trial has taught me how to work well with others and handle facts, whether they are advantages and disadvantages. You learn a lot on how to be a lawyer and what it take to be one,” said junior member Paige Shortt.
The Walkersville High School Mock Trial club competes against other schools’ clubs across the county including St. John’s Catholic Prep. Each school participates in six trials, which are held at the Frederick County Courthouse.
Each school has a defense and prosecution team. Each team has three meets each, where they compete against the opposite team from another school. Each team has three lawyers and three witnesses.
The students are scored on how well they perform by judges or attorneys. Students practice with each other to make sure they are prepared, meeting multiple times a week before matches. “Vallee usually calls everyone for FLEX and the lawyers meet up with their witness that they’ll call to the stand during the trial to practice what they’re going to say so it looks more fluid,” said senior member Faith Gordon. The team with the highest score wins the case.
Many members like how Mock Trial has helped them grow as people. “Although this is my third year in mock trial I still get really nervous, but I love when I am actually in trial and words just spill out. Sometimes I surprise myself in how well I do when I am confident,” said senior member Jackie Jimenez.
The competitive spirit of Mock Trial also attracts many students. “You get to sit up on an actual stand and argue a side you have prepared for. Your adrenaline rushes and it is a great experience,” said Shortt.
Each year, a new fictional case is chosen and each week the schools take turns switching between the defense and the prosecution. Students dress in professional attire and act according to their role.
“This year, our case is about lead poisoning in water in a public school. The case, Maryland v. Sam Saratoga, tries the school superintendent for misconduct in office and reckless endangerment,” explained Club Advisor and Social Studies teacher Andreanne Vallee.
Junior member Molly Draper is a defense witness, playing the role of Saratoga, and enjoys the challenge that tough questions can bring while on the stand, especially when she is able to come up with a great answer. “Those moments are really cool because there’s always going to be times where you’re cornered and have to agree to certain questions that make you look bad, but it you can get out of just a few, you can flip the script and win the case,” said Draper.
This week, WHS students served as the defense, arguing the innocence of Sam Saratoga. Their defense team included juniors Ashley Terry, Jared Schwartz, and sophomore Ryan Puthumana. Draper and senior Noni Hill played the witnesses.
With a 1-3 record, Mock Trial went into their trial on Tuesday working for a win against Middletown High School. There is only one trial left after this week, so members were hoping to improve their record before the end of the season.
Unfortunately, the Lions were not able to pull off a win against their rivals, but hopes are still high for their next match. Students are still enthusiastic about Mock Trial and find ways to enjoy it.
“I think everyone should try it at one point in their high school career,” said Shortt. Mock Trial is a great opportunity for any student interested in a career in law, or just interested in learning more about the legal system or gaining confidence in themselves.