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The Journey to the State Mock Trial Competition

March 24, 2015

“Your Honor, I object!” It was twelve o’clock on March 13, 2015, and my teammates and I had just begun the first of four rounds at the state competition for Mock Trial.

The journey here, however, began several months ago. Tryouts were held in November, which gave our co-captains time to coach members and help us understand the intricacies of Mock Trial. One thing I had never realized was that each member on a full team of 12 plays an equally important role. Since most of the team had little or no past experience, this extra time was vital.

The real work started when we began to examine the case materials in mid-January. Six students were assigned a witness to portray. They had to read the provided materials, learn how their character pertained to the crime at hand, and prepare answers to any and all possible questions. Incredibly, the job is even harder than it sounds; the three defense witnesses and the three prosecution witnesses put in a lot of time and effort.

The other six students were asked to be attorneys. Of those six, three would serve the prosecution and the others would protect the defendant. Each side had to know everything about every document in the case materials, prepare five-minute-long opening and closing statements, and write direct and cross examinations for every witness. Not only did everything have to be memorized, but the opposing team’s witnesses would obviously not provide the desired answer; attorneys had to be able to think on their feet whether objecting or examining a witness.

Then came the moment of truth. Our faculty sponsor, Dr. Gary Salazar, and attorney coach, Mr. Driggers, had helped us as much as they could, and it was time for the regional competition. We traveled to a courthouse in Conway on February 28th, where we hoped it would go well. At that competition, our defense competed against another team’s prosecution twice, and our prosecution faced off against one other defense. During the wait before awards were presented and results were announced, we talked about our performances in each presentation of the case. Although we felt that we had done reasonably well, no one wanted to be disappointed; you can only imagine our joy when, one nerve-wracking hour later, they announced that we had placed in the top two and would be moving on to the state competition!

Advancing to the competition at the Matthew J. Perry, Jr. Courthouse in Columbia meant that we would have to intensify our efforts even more, but we were up for the challenge. In the week between receiving the official notification and the day of the state competition, our team met for a minimum of an hour and a half a day to fine-tune parts, work new exhibits into pre-existing strategies, create new questions, and, in some cases, completely recreate a witness. By the time we left on March 13th, we had done as much as we could to prepare to compete against the best teams in the state. The two days of competition were fast-paced and filled with quick thinking, unforeseeable strategies, obstinate witnesses and new friends, among other things. Though the exact results have not yet been sent back to us, thanks to our hard work, we unofficially placed 11th in the state. It was a great experience for all of us, and who knows what will happen next year?

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