The Record

Mock Trial has perfect score in first trial

Betsey Bennett, Staff Writer

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The defense side of Mock Trial earned a perfect score of 65 points in the first round of the annual New York State Mock Trial Tournament, becoming the first team in recent history of New York to achieve the feat, Leonora Gogos (10) said.

This round, held on Tuesday, February 27th, was one of two preliminary rounds of a multi-phase tournament that culminates at States in Albany, co-President Radhika Mehta (12) said. While the preliminary round focused on the defense side of the case, the next preliminary round, held on Monday, will focus on the prosecution side, Mehta said.

This year’s case is a criminal case about a 19-year-old accused of engaging in disorderly conduct in his high school, co-President Maggie Brill (12) said. All of the trials follow the same format: there are three lawyers and three witnesses on each side, who move through opening statements, direct examination and cross examination of witnesses, and closing statements.

According to Adam Frommer (9), one of the witnesses, the trial was a success.

“I think that the team was very relaxed, and we did a really good job of staying in character and being really calm in trial,” Frommer said.

“Getting to watch everyone and see a lot of the practice and the work that we put into it come to fruition was really great, and I was proud of everyone on the team,” Brill said. “We had a lot of new students and underclassmen, and I think everyone was really poised and handled any unexpected situations very well.”

According to Brill, each element of the trial receives a score between one and five. For example, a lawyer is scored on his or her direct examination of the witness, while the witness is scored on his or her preparation and credibility.

Each side also receives a score for the quality of their opening and closing statements, and each team can score up to 10 points for professionalism, Brill said.

“Radhika and I were both ecstatic about receiving a perfect score, and we were both very proud of our team’s performance,” Brill said.

Unlike other debate clubs, Mock Trial competes in one tournament each year, but this tournament has multiple rounds and spans from February to May, Brill said.

Preparation for this year’s tournament began in late December, when New York State Mock Trial released the case for the year, Brill said. Since then, Mock Trial has held meetings on Mondays and Thursdays until 6 pm, Frommer said.

According to Mehta, the team has improved significantly since last year.

“Last year, we started preparation really late into the season and thus entered our first trial rather unprepared, but this year, we started our timeline much earlier and have found that that has really helped us,” Mehta said. “Also, we’ve worked a lot more closely with the other members of the team in order to make sure that everyone’s ideas are heard.”

While in previous years, the team was not able to start preparing until well into January, this year, Brill and Mehta received all applications and conducted all interviews for new team members immediately after winter break.

However, Brill believes that the team still has areas where it can improve.

“We are trying as a whole this year to be able to think a little more on our feet and improvise more, because I think that’s a huge part of Mock Trial,” Brill said. “Yes, we spend a lot of time preparing and writing out all of our material, but I think everyone on the team, including myself, can work on being able to be responsive to what’s happening in the courtroom and less stuck onto your written material.”

The team is hoping to make it at least into the top eight schools in the state as it did two years ago, Brill said.

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Mock Trial has perfect score in first trial