by Maya (’15)
Last year, I was part of SOTA’s Mock Trial team. In Mock Trial, a group of students put on a trial and argue on the defense or prosecution side. We are provided with case materials which include a pre-trial argument, witness statements, stipulations, a list of objections, and a fact situation. Each Mock Trial team has a prosecution and a defense side, and in the competitions, one side from each team goes against each other. My role last year was a witness, who gets to play a character and is asked questions regarding the case. I played a coroner, who autopsied the victim, and I got to talk about the knife wound, some fibers found on the victim’s body, and when and how she died (it was a murder trial). A lawyer on my side (the prosecution) made up questions to ask me to prove that the defendant was guilty, and I got to practice answering as my character. This exchange is called a direct examination. Another part of my role in the trial was being asked questions by the other team’s lawyer, which I didn’t know in advance. This is called a cross examination, and allowed for some improvisation, which is always exciting, and gave me a chance to show the judges that I knew my facts. Other parts of the trial include and opening and closing statement (on both sides), objections (which are made if the other team says something they’re not allowed to that you don’t like), and a pre-trial argument (which happens before the trial on one of the amendments, and decides if a certain fact gets into the actual trial or not).
This may seem complicated, and it’s hard to explain, but I had a blast doing it last year. The whole team feels like a family, and it’s nice to have a community outside of Creative Writing. We have practices two times a week, and they are fun, informative, and interesting. I do not think I want to become a lawyer at any point, but I find it fascinating, and really enjoyed being a witness. When the time comes for competitions, the whole team has bonded. We put on a trial against different schools (one side of each team goes on one night), and are scored by actual lawyers. Last year, SOTA got 2nd in the city competition, which was a little disappointing, but totally worth it. Afterwards, all the teams get together and get awards, and I got the best witness in the city, which was an honor.
Anyway, Mock Trial was and is really fun, and even if this doesn’t make you want to join (which it should), I hope it gives you an understanding of what the only team-sport at SOTA looks like.