High School Mock Trial Heads to Regionals

This Saturday, the Marshfield High School Mock Trial team will take to court at the regional competition in Wausau.

Last year, the team placed second at regionals and first the year before, securing a place at the state tournament in March. Overall, the MHS Mock Trial team has not finished lower than third in the last five years, and this year they will compete against fourteen other teams.

The team is given a fictional case that they study and try in court against other schools. “The case this year is Dig Deep Mining Incorporated against Jessie Green,” said Steven Okonek, who is coaching his twelfth season of Mock Trial, eighth as head coach. “Somebody on the night of June 20, 2017 broke onto the Dig Deep property. They spray-painted ‘We are Water’ onto the side of a mobile mining crusher and then put sugar in the hydraulic fluid. The next day, the sugar corroded the internal components of the hydraulic system, making the machine unusable.”

Depending on the round, the team has to either prove that Jessie Green committed the act, or did not. While the trial may be fictional, team members approach the case as if it were real. There are four rounds during the competition, and team members play-act roles like attorney and witness, sometimes having multiple roles during the trial.

“We do a lot of preparation regarding our affidavits, reading those over and really understanding who the character is and what their motives or lack of motives would be,” said Emma Gilkerson, a junior, who is playing two witness parts as defendant Jessie Green and a private security guard. “Then we all put that into a character and do cross examinations along with direct, so that we can present the case.”

Roma Shah, a senior, is playing an attorney and witness. Her role is to prepare the closing argument. While each side tries to create their best argument, presentation is vital.

“The presentation is half the battle. No matter how great of an argument you prepare, if you don’t deliver it in a way that sounds confident, then you’re not going to have anyone willing to listen to you, and you won’t get points,” she said.

Ben Donahue, a senior, is the plaintiff attorney and does the closings, also acting as a witness on the defense. He said preparation is important to master the public-speaking side of the trial.

“I like to go through closings pretty much all in one sitting, so I have it memorized. That way it’s a lot more natural-sounding,” he said. Reading over the case multiple times is also important so that there are no surprise details during the trial.

Jordan Colby, a senior, is an attorney for the defense. This is his third year in Mock Trial, and he said that experience is helpful when preparing for the competition.

“Steven has done a great job of talking to us about objections and proper court procedure, but I think for most of the veterans, we’re relying on our experience in court as our preparation,” he said. “You’re never as ready as you think you are for the day, but it gets easier each time.”

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