Mock Trial loses to Holy Spirit in semifinals


Marcus Mitchell, Gary Marva, and Tim Curcio (left to right)

“Court in now in session.”

Teenagers usually don’t want to find themselves in the same room as a judge saying these words.  Adults don’t either.

However, for the members of Mock Trial, these words mean they’re ready to win the case.

Mock Trial, a club that allows member to participate in rehearsed trials to learn about the legal system in a competitive manner, may not be the most high-profile organization at the high school, but a competition can be as stressful and exciting as any high-stakes athletic game.

In simple terms, the club gets a case packet at the beginning of each school year that includes the charges, penal code, stipulations, case law, and jury instructions as well as all exhibits and affidavits.  Each team assumes the roles of the case, and acts out in the simulated trial, ultimately try to win the case.  As the defense, they want the verdict to come out “not guilty.”  On the opposite side, the prosecution wants to see the verdict come out “guilty.”

This season, the Mock Trial team made it to the semifinals.  In the last case, juniors Marcus Mitchell and Tim Curcio led the team against Holy Spirit in what proved to be a very stressful competition.

This particular case was very debatable and both sides made some crucial points for their argument.  The case was very close throughout the entire trial, and it was very difficult to determine which verdict the judge would choose.  After all arguments were made, and the judge went off to think it over, we all began discussing what we thought.  Some comments from the crowd included: “It could go either way,” “It’s 50/50, maybe even 51/49,” and “It comes down to a stylistic difference.”

The stylistic difference refers to the clear differences in approach between our lawyers, Mitchell and Curcio, and the Holy Spirit lawyers.  Mitchell and Curcio had a more laid back, calm approach in which they asked all the necessary questions without crossing any boundaries to get their points out.  The Holy Spirit lawyers took the opposite approach; they were very loud, animated, and aggressive when questioning the witnesses.  This is a style that some favor, but is very risky and can backfire.

When the judge returned, the tension in the room could be cut with a knife.  As the teams anxiously awaited the verdict, staring at the judge, who announced that Holy Spirit was victorious. They moved on to compete in the finals at later date, where they lost to Mainland Regional.

Junior Gary Marva had the role of Sid Sawyer, who was accused of multiple crimes including vehicular homicide, reflected on the competition.

“It was a tough case,” he said.  “There were a lot of obstacles we had to get past or avoid in this trial.”

Junior Marcus Mitchell, a lawyer, discussed the team’s strategy.

“We took a different approach than the other lawyers and unfortunately, the judge seemed to like [Holy Spirit’s] style better.”

Mock Trial has been gaining momentum in terms of interest and participation.

“People are realizing that it’s actually very fun despite the hard work and you meet a lot of people who turn out to be good friends,” explained senior Justin Mortellite.

Junior Tim Curcio, who just finished his first year in Mock Trial, decided to join because his friends recommended it.

“My friends had done in it before and all enjoyed it so I gave it a shot,” he said. “I found that it’s definitely fun, and I’ll do it again next year.”

Students who are interested getting more information about the program should see adviser Mr. Angelozzi.