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The Communicator

The Windy City Challenge

CHS students travel to Chicago to compete in an international Mock Trial competition.
Izzie Jacob
Charlotte Rotenberg (left) and Abbi Bachman (right) walk through Chicago on their way back to the Palmer House hotel. The team stayed in downtown Chicago for the duration of the competition. “Getting to explore Chicago was really fun,” Ari Taylor said. “And I got to meet teams from all over North America.”

Charlotte Rotenberg, junior, pulled on a pair of black socks, donned a blazer and prepared to sue for negligence. The fact that she was heading to a mock trial didn’t do much to curb her nervousness. Stripping off her watch and shoes to make her way through the metal detector at the Federal Building did little to shake the illusion that she’d be handed down a ruling at the conclusion of the trial.

That first trial ran until 10 p.m., leaving Rotenberg and the rest of the team asleep on their feet.

“I’m going to be honest,” Rotenberg said. “I barely remember what happened.” Rotenberg, alongside nine other CHS students, had arrived in Chicago the previous day, Oct. 21, to compete in Empire, an international Mock Trial tournament held each year. The Empire team was composed of CHS Mock Trial veterans, coached by Judah Garber, a volunteer coach for the CHS Mock Trial team during the MHSMT (Michigan High School Mock Trial) season, and captained by Isabella Jacob and Serena O’Brien.

With the majority of preparation happening over the summer, the team had limited opportunities to practice all together. In the weeks lead- ing up to the competition they were able to hold a few run-throughs, but the team still felt somewhat unprepared going into the weekend. Jacob and O’Brien, presenting the pre-trial oral argument

Photography by Isabella Jacob

Charlotte Rotenberg (left) and Abbi Bachman (right) walk through Chicago on their way back to the Palmer House hotel. The team stayed in downtown Chicago for the duration of the competition. “Getting to explore Chicago was really fun,” Ari Taylor said. “And I got to meet teams from all over North America.”


for the Plaintiff and Defense respectively, felt especially unsure going into the weekend. The oral argument is a staple of collegiate mock trial, but is not a part of MHSMT, so it was a new experience for them both. In the oral argument, a student attorney prepares an argument on an issue; in this year’s competition the issue at hand was the constitutionality of a stat- ute the Defendant was charged with. The attorney presents their argument to a judge, field- ing their questions throughout.

“Going into my first trial I couldn’t find my oral argument notepad,” O’Brien said. “It was definitely a little terrifying, because I was already stressed about it, and I might have almost cried when Izzie called me to tell me that she couldn’t find it in our hotel room, but it ended up being kind of exhilarating.”

Rotenberg doubled for the team, portraying Justice Carbo, the Plaintiff, on one side of the case, and Jackie Staub, an expert, on the other. As Carbo, Rotenberg was a guest witness. This role is a unique part of the Empire competition, in which a guest witness from one team is assigned to another team for the duration of a trial. The guest witness has 15 minutes to prepare a direct examination (their version of events to present to the court) with an attorney from the other team. Rotenberg valued the opportunity to get to know people from other teams.

“It was very much a competition,” Rotenberg said. “But it’s still friendly.”

Not only did the CHS team send away a guest witness each round, they also received one each trial, providing the team a chance to interact with even

more of the teams competing. The CHS team competed against, or alongside guest witnesses of, teams from states ranging from Florida to California.

The team competed against four rounds in total, twice representing the Plaintiff side, and twice representing the Defense. With three wins and one loss, the team placed 11th out of 32 teams from over a dozen states. Ari Taylor, who competed as a witness, was grateful for the opportunity to spend time with her teammates and get a leg up for the upcoming MHSMT season.

“I really feel like we’re in great shape for regionals, states and maybe even nationals,” Taylor said. The team is looking for- ward to the MHSMT case drop on Oct. 23, at which point the CHS team will start practicing in full force.

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About the Contributors
Serena O'Brien
Serena O'Brien, Print Editor-in-Chief
This is Serena's third year of journalism, and her second year as a Print Editor-in-Chief. She loves to be outside, whether that's running, hiking, biking, swimming, or just lazing around in the sun. Work takes precedent though, so you're more likely to find her writing, editing, doing copious amounts of math homework, or taking a break to play her mobile game of the week. She is beyond excited for another year in Room 300!
Izzie Jacob
Izzie Jacob, Print Editor-in-Chief
Isabella (or Izzie) is a senior at Community and is thrilled to be continuing her journalism career. When she’s not watching Marvel movies or taking 0.5 pictures, she’s usually listening to her playlist, which contains music from M.I.A. to Kendrick Lamar. After school, you can find her objecting in mock trial or drinking a surplus of chai. Her favorite part of journalism is talking about issues that don't get enough attention and advocating for the rights of immigrants and women of color.

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