Mock Trial Competitions

Sarah Baird, Pawprint Staff Reporter

The “competition season” for Mock Trial has begun, with the Hillcrest teams having two competitions in the same week (Feb. 8 and Feb. 10, 2022).

“On Tuesday [Feb. 8] we had a competition, and like any contest, it was stressful, but it was also the most excited I’ve been all year,” freshman Kimiya Mavaddat said.

The competitions function similar to debate tournaments, going head to head against other teams and having multiple rounds.

“[At the competition], there’s teams… from different schools all around the Wasatch Front, and they all have a team of usually eight to twelve students,” advisor Dave Veenstra described the tournaments. “We have our teams as well. We’ll have a lawyer give an opening statement, and then they [the other team] give an opening statement, and then we’ll present a witness… [and] ask questions of our witness, then they get to cross-examine our witness. We do that three times – we have three witnesses, and they have three witnesses, and then we give our closing statements.”

This is all done in front of qualified attorneys and law professionals, who score the teams.

“The judges will score us based on the quality of statements that we make,” Veenstra described the process. Our lawyers will get a score for the opening and closing [statements], for the directs of each witness, and the cross-examinations of the other witnesses. Our witnesses will get a score for how well they perform… we have a bailiff who gets points for… making sure everything’s running smoothly. We add all those scores up, and then we advance.”

To prepare, the students better their reading comprehension skills, look at old cases, and learn how to make arguments.

“We have weekly meetings all year long,” Veenstra said. “We use cases from previous years, and we break up the cases and form the questions…The most important part of the process is learning how to make an argument, how to string together pieces of evidence in order to make an argument. It’s… reading comprehension stuff, where we’re reading through these witness statements and grabbing the parts that we can use and the parts that we can attack.”

The students on the mock trial team seemingly have enjoyed being on the team.

“Everyone on my team was extremely nice, and if it weren’t for our joint teamwork, I don’t think we would’ve done anywhere near as good,” Mavaddat said. “[We have] our second competition, and all I can hope is that we can all prove ourselves better than before and absolutely obliterate the competition!”