Tangled in Mock Trial

6 a.m. — The usual morning line-up: Start on the day and work till I drop or flee. Eat, brush, shower, clothes and shine-up. Get my butt in the car because it’s 6:50. Then I’ll run to class, work in maybe two or three. I’ll sleep in the rest of them and write notes frantically. I’ll eat lunch and talk, then swim and basically just wonder, “When will it be 5:30?”

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a sophomore this year, so that means harder classes, struggle to get out the door, long sports practices, AP European History and last but not least, mock trial. 

 I have been in mock trial for three years now, and it has been one of the most surreal experiences of my life, thus far. My team and I spend countless hours together forging an unbreakable bond all leading up to a week-long county competition and hopefully, state finals. 

Mock trial is a re-enactment of a bench trial, where the judge makes the final ruling instead of a jury. It is a trial with two opposing sides, prosecution and defense, which both contain a panel of attorneys and 4 witnesses each. Speeches and questioning are done by the teams on both sides during the trial.

This year, I was the defendant, or the person being convicted, and last year, I was a witness on the defense. It was a long and difficult journey to get to county competition, so let me take you through a typical day-in-the-life of a mock trial kid.

Normally, on weekdays when I have mock trial, I’ll have a 12 hour day at school starting from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. 

I will go to school and end at sixth period. During the majority of the mock trial season, I also have water polo season, and practices are after school until 4:30 p.m. After that, I finally get to mock trial practice which is from 5:30-7:30 p.m. That’s where all the magic happens. All of us trek up to the third-floor biology classroom to begin a rigorous session of preparation for competitions in February. 

Kayla Maxedon, biology, Honors Physiology and AVID teacher, is our faculty advisor, and normally, she starts off our meetings with a general overview of what we will be doing, as well as a friendly reminder that practice starts at 5:30 p.m. and that we better get our butts up here before then. Then, we break off into groups and go into different rooms. The witnesses go into 43L and the attorneys generally stay in 43N.

This is the best part of practice. All of us witnesses go into the other room where we are supposedly working on memorization, but once we get there, it’s a whole different story. 

Since all the advisors are in the other room with the attorneys, the witnesses are able to have certain freedoms in our room such as running around, playing music, convincing a fellow teammate that Australia is in fact real, helping each other with AP European History or AP Calculus and putting all the paper clips into a chain.

This is where all the team bonding occurs. For the three years that I have been doing this, not a single one of my teams has been the same. They’re all like snowflakes with no repeating pattern; however, meeting new people who will endure the experience of mock trial and laugh with you (or at you at times) along the way is part of what makes mock trial fun.

At a certain designated time during practice, the witnesses are called into the other room to act out their questioning with their attorneys in front of the advisors for critiques. These are the times when we hone our acting skills (me especially) and reconstruct certain responses in order to have the best shot at winning. 

While this is going on, I am either memorizing, goofing off by writing down funny quotes we said for our annual quote book or helping other people out with their tasks for the trial. 

That is another amazing aspect of mock trial: there is always someone willing to help you create something that will give you the best chance at succeeding. For example, witnesses who don’t have much to do at the time often help out attorneys with their questions or arguments.

It’s 7:30 p.m. before we even know it. We all reconvene in 43N where we get a quick rundown of upcoming events and my teammate Dylan’s reminder for everyone to shut up so we can go home sooner and our attorney advisor’s comment that we should leave 10 minutes later because Dylan will be driving. After that, we’re free little birds with a considerable homework load. 

The endless complaints about homework, Saturday practices and heaps of work we still have to do before competitions rage on throughout the season as we descend the stairs to sit in our cars, but on behalf of all of us, I can say without a shadow of reasonable doubt that everything is worth it. 

For us, these practices are not just a place where we work; actually, we do less work than people may think at practice. They’re a place where we can truly be ourselves in a welcoming environment, make each other laugh about the most stupid things and create friendships that not even the biggest loss can break. 

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