It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Wreaths are being hung on doors, stores are starting to play Christmas music, spectators at soccer games are starting to bring blankets and hot chocolate to cope with the cold weather (well, cold for Florida), and the High School Mock Trial Team is all-in, training for the big playoff game (i.e. Circuit competition) in early February. The winner of the 10th Judicial Circuit competition against Jenkins High School Law Academy and Tenoroc High School is bound for the Florida State High School Mock Trial Team competition on March 5-7, 2015.
Just like in football or soccer, there are rivalries, huddles, formations, and, when necessary, the legal version of a Hail Mary pass. We compete with the best of the best—the defending state champions from Jacksonville, Fletcher High School; American Heritage from Plantation; Terra from Miami; and Chiles High from Tallahassee. These teams are the power-suit wearing equivalents of Christian Alexander (senior quarterback for the Viking team) plus a line of 6’4, 280 pound giants. Different from sports is that the worst injuries are paper cuts, sore feet from walking in heels, and bruised egos.
Now, most of the Mock Trial Team members don’t participate in team sports, and I know that I’m definitely not used to communicating in sports lingo, but I’ll do my best:
The Game Plan
Each year, high schools around the state of Florida are issued a case packet through the Florida Law Related Education Association (FLREA). This case can cover anything from drug trafficking to murder. This year’s case, Harper Sanders v. Everglade Computers, involves school-issued laptops with remotely accessible webcams.
Students must prepare both sides of the case, and must be ready to perform either side against another school’s team in any given round…but we call the sides Plaintiff and Defendant instead of Offense and Defense. However, a coin flip is still the preferred method of choosing the side.
There is so much hard work that has to get done: writing opening statements, preparing objections, learning how to “direct” and “cross” a witness, and, of course, learning complicated legal jargon. Witnesses must learn their character’s affidavit backwards and forwards, and prepare themselves for questioning from other school’s attorneys.
We undergo intense preparation, including rigorous rounds with our own coaches as well as volunteer attorneys and judges who graciously help us (and we’re always looking for more–hint, hint). But not all of the positions on the team are legal – we also have a team stylist to make sure we present ourselves in a professional – and, well, intimidating – manner.
In its second season, members of the Mock Trial team are extremely excited to begin the process. Last year, in our inaugural season, we were blessed to receive 7th place out of 20 teams at the state competition, as well as a prestigious “Legal Professionalism” award. It was quite an amazing rookie season—we would love to surpass last year’s performance, but it doesn’t come easy.
We are blessed to have our Attorney Coach Chasity Branham and Teacher Coach Mrs. Canady to assist us in all these daunting tasks. We are also blessed in that this year, we were able to expand the legal arm of the RISE Institute into its own program, aptly named….drumroll, please… “All RISE.” The focus of this new organization is to help connect LCS students to the legal community–we want to learn about what the practice of law from those who do it best.
Amanda Fulton, Alex Holmes, Nehemiah McIntosh, Lauren Latimer, Hannah Williams, Julia Canady, Reese Overholt, Ashlyn Joyner, Marybeth Boulerice, Megan Gordon, and Hayden Lee, along with some talented 8th graders waiting in the wings ready for their turn next year.
It’s Trial Team Time in Viking Country…
Mock Trial takes a lot of work, but it is ultimately incredibly rewarding. Win or lose, we get to do awesome things: dress up in suits, practice and perform in courthouses, and build relationships with both our own teammates and with other teams.
If you’re interested in learning more about the program or how you can help us, please contact Mrs. Canady at firstname.lastname@example.org. We really appreciate all the support.