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CHS Mock Trial Team Won the State Championship Through Months of Hard Work

Strategies, adversity and triumph. Hard work paid off and eventually led the CHS Mock Trial Team to their 9th times State Championship.
Anthony Wang

After securing 3rd place in the regional competition and advancing to the Michigan Mock Trial State Championship, the CHS Mock Trial A team faced the exact same situation from the last Mock Trial Season. They would have to go against two schools in the morning, hoping to advance to the semi-final and final rounds in the afternoon. The CHS mock trial team had been preparing the materials for months in an attempt to win the State Championship, an accomplishment that the team wasn’t able to achieve last year.

“We’re together,” said Keegan Malestein, an A team CHS senior portraying witness Sandy Bone in this year’s Michigan Mock trial case. “We’ve looked at the case materials together. We’ve worked down beams, but we want anybody to witness. Read the affidavits, read the exhibits, read all the case materials and make sure we’re on the same page.”

With professional support from Coaches, both CHS mock trial teams were able to develop strong direct examinations, cross-examinations, statements and theories. Most importantly, the team held multiple run-throughs to get team members better prepared for the actual trials in the region, as well as making adjustments to the previous materials.

“I feel like a lot of it is just a sort of repetition of what you’ve prepared because every time you do it, you make a little tweak and eventually your stuff gets really good,” said Serena O’Brien, an A-Team defense attorney. “Coaches are so helpful because they have a mock trial background and they’ve seen so many different things. I think it’s super helpful to hear from them like what it is exactly that we’re trying to prove for our case to make sense.”

Despite having a solid understanding and foundational knowledge of the rules, being adaptable and lucky are two important factors that play a huge impact in an actual competition trial. The scores that determine the outcome of a trial are given by a presiding judge and several scoring judges. In a mock trial competition, the presiding judges are generally people with experience in the field of law. However, experts don’t share the same approaches when it comes to ruling, such as objections or entering exhibits into evidence. The judges are people, and people are inherently biased. Some judges might prefer a more aggressive style of examining witnesses, while others might not. A judge’s preference is something completely out of competitors’ control. So it is critical to observe the presiding judge, inspect their preferences and be adaptive to the strategies of approaching the case based on their preference to receive a higher score.

“I learned that you really have to be adaptable,” O’Brien said. “The things that went wrong for us last year were the judge did not like a couple of the things that we were doing and [the judge] shut them down with no opportunity to explain our side of the story. If the judge isn’t with you, you just have to move on because, at the end of the day, you don’t look good. Even though it’s totally unfair.”

Despite seeming unfair, that’s how mock trials work in a real competition. Judges have different preferences on styles and rulings on proper uses of witness statements as well as evidence. At the end of the day, the ballots are what’s deciding the result, not a single examination of arguing your side of the case.

“It’s like you just kind of have to work with it,” O’Brien said. “If you do all your things perfectly, something could go wrong and it still might not be enough. Just because you made me feel like your material is better, that doesn’t translate to winning.“

Learning from the State Final round last year, the CHS Mock Trial A team was more prepared than ever. From building strong statements and learning to be adaptive, the team only had one goal in mind: to win the State Championship.

On Saturday, March 23, the Mock Trial A team competed in the Michigan Mock Trial State Championship. With the defense going in the first round in the morning and the plaintiff competing in the second round, the performance from both sides helped the team qualify for the semi-final round. After advancing to the semi-final, the defense went for the second time of the day and eventually secured a spot in the state final for two years in a row. Following the final announcement, the CHS mock trial team was facing the exact situation from last year’s state final, give it your all or face the disappointment of falling short once again.

“I was a little bit horrified when we got called for the final round because you know, we had just competed,” O’Brien said. “I was scared that it was going to be the same situation as last year where we went to the finals and we lost.”

The Michigan Mock Trial tournament consists of four rounds in total if a team qualifies for both the final and semi-final. Each round is around 2 hours with a lunch break in between. It was the third time defense for the A team went against an opposing team, so the team members were undoubtedly tired. However, tiredness was overcome by months of hard work and preparation. Around six o’clock in the afternoon, it was announced that team 911(CHS Mock Trial A team) was the Mock Trial State Champion for 2024.

“I was just happy,” Malestein said. “You know, I was just really glad that all that five months of work paid off. An invigorating feeling is being willing to put in all that hard work and then make it to the top. Yeah, that’s just a fantastic feeling.”

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About the Contributor
Anthony Wang
Anthony Wang, Opinion Editor
Anthony is currently a Junior at Community High School. It is his second year as a communicator stuff, and first year as a Web opinion editor. Anthony is doing Varsity Crew at Huron, and Mock Trial at Community. In his spare time, Anthony likes to hang out with his friends, play video games, and watch videos on Youtube.

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