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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Mock Trial handed an invitation to success

Approximately 400 students, all dressed in business attire, milled around the entrance to the Santa Clara County Office of Education. Some nervously paced back and forth, mumbling to themselves, while others confidently reviewed strategies with their team.

Twenty teams from schools around the Santa Clara County attended the Santa Clara County Mock Trial Invitational on Jan. 17. The invitational was practice for the more competitive Mock Trial tournaments in February.

In this year’s case, the defendant, Evan Shem, is accused of stealing the painting “Treason” from his previous professor and replacing it with his own imitation of it. Complications grow as two art experts voice contradicting ideas about which painting belongs to whom.

Each school competed against two schools from outside their county. The SHS team, which has 15 members, went up against Heritage High School and Northgate High School. The defense team beat Northgate High School’s prosecution while the prosecution team failed in proving the defendant guilty against Heritage High School’s defense.

“I think that our team did OK, but there’s definitely room to improve,” said freshman Katherine Zhou, who played a key witness in the case. “It really helped our team to see other teams’ perspectives on the case and their tactics.

After competing, team members gained experience and got feedback from opposing teams. They also received advice from two attorney judges, the opposing teams’ coaches and co-coordinator Dr. Hugh Roberts.

“[The advice] definitely helped me understand how I was supposed to act as a witness especially where I was supposed to look at and how I was supposed to speak,” said junior Rhea Srivats, who experienced her first invitational that day.

Through the positive and negative feedback, the team discovered its own weaknesses as well. According to senior Michelle Luo, the Falcons’ greatest shortcoming was unfamiliarity with the case; there were several moments when witnesses were deemed not credible because they did not know their facts well enough.

In response to the team’s poor fact pattern knowledge, Roberts quoted Lucy from Charlie Brown, saying, “‘Even if you’re wrong, be wrong at the top of your voice.’”

Regardless, new members of the team were excited after the invitational and are now pumped for actual competition in February.

“I honestly just love the logic and the work that goes into Mock Trial and I can really see that come out in a court day,” Srivats said.

After months of preparation, the invitational was an opportunity for participants to see how far they had come since the beginning of the year.

As a whole, the team and its coaches were satisfied with their performance, and aim to work harder to improve for future competitions.

“They have potential, they just need to learn how to use it,” Roberts said. “My expectations are that they will all continue to improve, learn a lot and have a good experience.” 

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