Exercising their comprehension of the judicial system, Troy High School Warrior Mock Trial team members attended their first Orange County High School Mock Trial competition at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana Nov. 15, 17, 29 and Dec. 1.
Mock Trial, sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation of Orange County, is a civic education program that features a series of mock courtroom trials. The competition aims to develop student understanding and appreciation of the judicial system and help participants improve analytical and communication skills. Participants can compete in various levels of the competition, from local rounds to the National Mock Trial Competition.
In mock courtroom trials, teams are split into prosecution and defense groups, which participate in separate competitive events against an opposing team’s prosecution or defense. Guided by a high school coach or volunteer attorney, teams learn about, craft and present and defend an entire case to local judges who volunteer to evaluate teams. Competitors initially participate in a series of local preliminary and playoff events held from late November to December. From the county level, the top 16 teams advance to the state Mock Trial competition held in Sacramento in March. Top state competitors progress to the National Mock Trial event in Washington, D.C.
This fall, all teams were assigned the same case: a mock trial involving allegations of human trafficking. To prepare for their case, team members worked with volunteer attorneys Randy Clement and Carlos Oliva to tailor their arguments to their trial and ensure their cases were coherent and concise. According to vice president Daniella Lee, Warriors also held weekly mock trials to prepare for the intense environment of the courtroom.
Our coaches prepared us really well and everyone [is] very committed,” Lee said. “Members [also prepared] on their own time and spent extra hours [training]. Everyone is [very] dedicated [in] proving their case.”
Because this is the first year the Warrior chapter has participated in Mock Trial, members were not able to prepare for the competition during the summer and were also initially unfamiliar with competition guidelines. According to secretary Marie Chaghouri, members mediated their obstacles by studying extensively and consulting their volunteer attorneys for help.
“We’ve worked really hard [to overcome our challenges],” Chaghouri said. “We try to help each other out. If I have a strength in something I help someone else and if someone else has a strength in [a topic] we help each other out.”
Members hope their continuous preparation will eventually help them qualify for the state competition. According to Chaghouri, although final results will not be announced until late December after more future events, team members remain optimistic and take pride in their work.
“We hope to [do well] but we don’t expect to [rank among the top],” Chaghouri said. “We just want to gain experience and gauge [how to improve] next year.”