Upcoming season brings changes to mock trial

September 27, 2018 — by Kaitlyn Tsai

As a new season approaches, mock trial begins the year facing new challenges.

After coaching for four years, attorney coach Mary McDonnell moved to Chicago over the summer. Attorney coach Jing Lee also notified club supervisor Matt Torrens that she will not be able to teach this year, leaving mock trial in need of a coach.

Torrens has reached out to parents, faculty, the Santa Clara University School of Law and the Santa Clara County Bar Association in hopes of finding a new coach but, so far, to no avail. The team may have to function without professional instruction, which has not lent itself to success in past years without coaches, Torrens said.

However, senior vice president Khiara Berkowitz said that because the club had great mentors, returning members of mock trial have gained experience with the trial process and should still be able to lead the team.

“[Working without an attorney coach] would definitely take a lot of hard work and collaboration between all members of mock trial, but if people are willing to take initiative and put in the effort, I think we can accomplish a lot,” she said.

Furthermore, mock trial lost several key members to graduation last year, but their empty spots provide plenty of room for new members to participate. The team welcomes students from all skill sets, from acting and public speaking to drawing. In particular, Berkowitz said she hopes the club will gain more drama students to play witnesses.

This year’s case, People v. Klein, focuses on a criminal threat and the First Amendment, which differs from last year’s murder trial. In the case, Reagan Klein is charged with making a false emergency report and a criminal threat against his coworker, Sawyer Smith; the pretrial argument addresses whether Reagan’s message was a true threat.

“It’s hard to live up to a murder case, but this case is definitely interesting to argue as it’s not entirely black and white,” Berkowitz said. “It’s also applicable to our everyday lives as it deals with the negative use of social media.”

As a whole, she is confident in the team’s ability to overcome these complications and looks forward to the season.

“We have really strong members with a lot to offer, so I have no doubt it will be a very fun and productive season,” she said.