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Mock Trial Team Makes a Case for Hard Work and Preparation

courtroomThe Somers High School Mock Trial team recently competed in the Westchester County Bar Association (WCBA) Mock Trial Competition against schools throughout the county.

The students worked hard all year starting in September, meeting once a week for approximately an hour each time. Together they learn courtroom procedures, such as how to speak with the judge, how to present things into evidence, and how to impeach a witness. They also study legal terms, objections likely to be seen in a trial, and even what to wear to court.

9 students in suits at mock trial“There is a lot of work that goes into preparing for the competition outside of our meetings,” said Allie Lusthaus. “We write direct and cross-examinations as well as opening and closing statements.”

In December, students were given the case for their mock trial in the competition, and they began working together twice a week for two hours each time to prepare. Students memorized questions and answers for different roles in the mock trial. They even worked closely with a real lawyer who helped them with many aspects of the mock trial.

“Mr. Foley is a lawyer who helped us write cross-examination and direct examination questions,” said Jake Combs. “He also taught the student witnesses how to strategically help our side in the case when the opposing school is cross-examining them. Mr. Foley used his expertise to prepare us for the trial.”

ourtroom with student at mock trialAfter months of careful preparation and planning, the team competed in a real courtroom in front of a real judge at the WCBA in March. Every year, mock trial teams are given either a criminal or a civil case. This year’s trial was a criminal case. The team had to represent both the prosecution and the defense on different days during the competition.

“The competition itself was a very energizing environment,” said Allie. “Everyone was nervous but excited to be there.”

The Somers Mock Trial Team did a great job in the competition, but eventually lost to the top overall seed in the knockout stages. Once a team is eliminated from the competition, they are done for the year. The winners of the Westchester County Finals will move on to compete again in Albany for the state competition, and then advance beyond that to the national competition.