Mock trial team enjoys early win

February 5, 2011 — by Shalvin Galvin and Vijay Menon

Employing a strong defense, the mock trial team savored a verdict of non-guilty culminating in a 250-209 win over Valley Christian on Feb. 2 at the Santa Clara County Superior Courthouse.

The trial was the first of the 2011 Santa Clara County Mock Trial Invitational. Twenty-one teams are entered this season, and eight teams will then move on to the quarter-finals. The county champ will proceed to the state tournament in Riverside in March.

The team’s defense side competed in the first of four preliminary rounds. The defense followed up with a round against Leigh High School on Feb. 4 while the prosecution competed on Feb. 9 and will compete again tonight in the last contest of the preliminary stage. The results of these three scrimmages could not be published due to printing deadlines.

The 12-member team has been working ever since auditions in October to prepare for the competition. However, the team puts in relatively few hours in comparison to its competition. While Saratoga practices an average of two to three hours per week, teams like Valley Christian often practice as much as six hours every week.

Mock trial is a competition in which schools argue the merits of an invented case before a real judge and are scored by actual attorneys. Much like a play, team members write and rehearse examinations and work on character development. At the same time, attorneys must be prepared to both make and defend legal objections during the course of the trial.

The defense team featured two members who were making their first appearances as attorneys. Sophomore Ashwini Velchamy and junior Michael Chang were competing in their first trials along with senior Vijay Menon. Although it was his first competition as an attorney, Chang quickly got into the groove of things.

“I felt a little nervous for the first few seconds,” said Chang, “but then I realized it wasn’t that much different from presenting to Dr. Roberts, our coach, so it went smoothly from there.”

Velchamy echoed the same sentiment about her first competition.

“I had never done anything like this before, so I was really nervous at first,” said Velchamy. “It was a great experience, especially since we won.”

Velchamy also received special recognition from the scoring attorneys for her performance at the trial.

“I felt really good about the way our team performed,” she said.

If the team advances to the quarterfinals after their preliminary rounds, they will compete in a single-elimination bracket to win the county competition.

“That is our goal,” said co-captain Shannon Galvin. “I think we can make it happen.”

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