May it Please the Court…of Mock Trial!

Anna Zittle, Student Life Writer

Mock Trial is a team you can join in which you study a case and adopt a specific part (lawyer or witness), prepare for the trials, and compete against other school’s Mock Trial teams, ranging from Perry Hall to RPCS, or any other school registered in the league.  Being a member of the Mock Trial team requires commitment and after school practices, typically held on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Though a lot of work, being a part of the Mock Trial squad was an awesome experience!

In Mock Trial, there are two different people you can be, a lawyer or a witness for the defense or the prosecution.  The defense and the prosecution are the two sides to a case, one which defends the accused (hence defense) and one who tries to prove the defendant guilty.  Being a lawyer or a witness for either side is interesting, and the process of becoming a witness or a lawyer for either side is the same.  Lawyers are assigned one witness to direct, and one to cross.  This means that the witness they direct will be “directed”- the lawyer will ask them a series of questions, and this particular witness has had time to prepare answers with this lawyer and will answer accordingly.  The witness the lawyer is assigned to cross is unknown- the lawyer prepares questions that build the case and use these questions to get the witness for the opposing side to help the lawyer’s case.  This is a lot of work, and some lawyers also have to prepare opening and closing statements along with their direct and cross.

The other element to Mock Trial is a witness.  Being a witness employs a different type of work than lawyers and can be related to something along the lines of improv.  Each witness has an affidavit, which explains the specific person’s version of events or extra information about the incident of the case.  As a witness, you memorize your affidavit and essentially become the witness.  With the lawyer that directs you, you rehearse direct answers, but it is important to make it seem more conversational and less scripted.  Being a witness also entails being crossed, which most relates to improv.  A lawyer from the opposing counsel will ask questions, and you have to respond with what the witness would say, while still helping your side of the case.  This can be very tricky but provides a fresh new take every time you try the case.

This year, NDP’s team finished second in Baltimore County’s league, which is the farthest we’ve come in a while!  The team was great this year, and I am so glad I got to be a part of this amazing experience and glad for the chance to meet all of the wonderful people involved.  Please consider joining the Mock Trial next year if you want to meet great people and are at all interested in law or even just in how a court works!